Words and Questions to Avoid in Your Questionnaire Part #2

Words and Questions to Avoid in Your Questionnaire Part #2

In my previous blog I gave you some examples of words and questions to avoid in the construction of your next survey questionnaire.   Here’s the second installment.

1.  Avoid asking respondents to answer questions that are difficult, that rely too much on memory or require the respondent to guess.  In the same vein, avoid questions that ask respondents to make difficult estimates e.g. “how many times in the past year have you purchased toothpaste”?    In this example, it would be easier to answer the question if the time frame was expressed in months or weeks. 

2.  Avoid the use of hypothetical questions e.g. “What would you do if ‘x’ happened. Also recognize that questions about future behaviour are inherently unreliable. Keep in mind that people have a hard time predicting what they might do or think next year, next month or even tomorrow.

3.  Avoid ranking questions e.g. asking a respondent to place a list of items in descending order of importance.  In my experience, this is a difficult task for a respondent given that it requires them to first review an entire list and mentally juggle all items as they place them in ranked order. As well this ranking exercise doesn’t take into account that some items on the list may be judged to be equal in terms of their importance.

For more tips on survey design, download our paper "7 Tips for Creating Successful Online Surveys" available at www.brammresearch.com


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