Questions Order: Does it matter?

Items on a market research survey document, or questionnaire, should be grouped into logically coherent sections. Grouping questions that are similar will make the survey easier to complete, and the respondent will feel more comfortable. Questions that use the same response formats, or those that cover a specific topic, should appear together.

Each question should follow comfortably from the previous question. Writing a questionnaire is similar to writing anything else. Transitions between questions should be smooth. Market research surveys that jump from one unrelated topic to another feel disjointed and are not likely to produce high response rates.

Most investigators have found that the order in which questions are presented can affect the way that people respond to the survey. One study reported that research survey questions in the latter half of a questionnaire were more likely to be omitted, and contained fewer extreme responses. Some researchers have suggested that it may be necessary to present general questions before specific ones in order to avoid response contamination. Other researchers have reported that when specific questions were asked before general questions, respondents tended to exhibit greater interest in the general questions.

It is not clear whether or not question-order affects response. A few researchers have reported that question-order does not effect responses, while others have reported that it does. Generally, it is believed that question-order effects exist in interviews, but not in written or online surveys.
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