Survey Phenomena That Make the Best Surveys Faulty (Part I)

You have created an almost perfect survey with the help of your research team. And while the survey questionnaire thrilled you, certain survey biases may probably have been the reason why you have gathered inaccurate data.

Our survey experts have identified some survey biases that affect survey results:

Social Desirability Biaschecking on checklist boxes made from recycled paper craft stick on _shutterstock_126771989

Survey participants, sometimes, show tendency towards providing socially-desirable or acceptable answers, which may not be accurate.

Avoid asking questions related to controversial topics.

Faulty Memory
Some survey respondents happen to answer questions incorrectly simply due to poor memory. This becomes more frequent as the time period increases between the survey and the event.

Avoid questions that compel respondents to recall events that happened a long time ago. For example, questions like, “What was your weight four years ago?” should be avoided.

Horizontal Response Format
Answer options laid out in a horizontal line can confuse respondents, as a result of which they may select the wrong options.

1. Arrange answer options in a vertical format.
2. Keep a safe distance between two answer options.

Acquiescence Bias
The tendency to choose all positive answer choices is referred to as acquiescence bias.

Create balanced response sets with equal number of positively- and negatively-worded questions.

Extreme Responding
The tendency to select extreme answer options, regardless of the right answer, is called extreme responding.

This habit is usually noticed when there are more than 10 answer options.
1. Limit the number of answer options
2. Split the large matrix into multiple small ones
3. Change the scale
4. Make the responses more interactive or personal by choosing scales such as pictorial scales.