Question Wording Problems

The general principle of question wording is that every respondent should understand the question and be able to answer it with reliability. This becomes especially critical when designing a questionnaire for online poll research. Unlike in personal interviews, the researcher cannot provide the respondents with immediate feedback. Below are some of the typical wording problems from sample research surveys.

1. Leading question. For example, the product research survey question Why do you like Starbucks latte better than those of competitions? leads consumer to make a statement favoring the Starbucks latte.

2. Ambiguous question. The sample product survey question Do you drink Starbucks coffee regularly? uses the word regularly which could mean different things to different people - once a day to some and once a week to others.

3. Unanswerable question. Some questions could be hard or impossible to answer. For example, the question What was the occasion for having your first latte? assumes that you actually remember that time and that it really matters.

4. Two questions in one. Do you drink hot and iced coffee at Starbucks? is not one but two question, because you may answer yes to hot coffee, but no to iced coffee.

5. Non-mutually exclusive answers. Imagine yourself answering the following sample demographic survey question: What is your age? (check one that applyes: under 20, 20-40, 40 and over). What answer should a 40 year-old check?

Keeping in mind these common wording mistakes when designing all end user surveys for online poll research will ensure obtaining survey data that you can truly rely on.
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