You Want To Avoid These Survey Pitfalls, Don’t You?

Here are some examples of troublesome survey questions that could affect the reliability and accuracy of your results…and how to avoid them.

Leading Questions

Leading survey questions influence the way in which respondents answer your questions. You don’t want to lead your respondents to answering questions a certain way based on the wording or structure of them.

Example: You like Obsurvey’s new and improved logo, don’t you?
Better phrasing: Do you like Obsurvey’s new logo?

Loaded Questions

Loaded questions suggest a socially desirable answer or can be emotionally charged. This type of survey questions can push respondents towards a specific answer choice. You need to avoid this and make sure that your questions allow any answer given to be considered equally acceptable by the respondent.

Example: Is it terrible for parents to smack their children?
Better phrasing: Should parents be allowed to smack their children?


Do not ask questions that assume the respondents are familiar with the specifics. Also, in some assumptive questions, your respondent may agree with the statement part of your survey questions, but not the assumptive part.

Example: Does the lack of courtesy shown by hotel receptionists, in your opinion, influence the experience of the customers staying at hotels?
Better phrasing: Do you think that customer service can affects a customer’s experience at hotels?

The assumption here is that hotel receptionists are discourteous and if your respondent does not agree with this, they won’t be able to answer the question accurately.

Jargon & Slang

Use words that are direct and familiar to the respondents. Try not to use jargon, slang, abbreviations or technical concepts.
If you must use any of these types of words in your questions, be sure to include an explanation or example of what you mean to ensure that your question is understandable to readers

Double Negatives

Double negatives are when two “no” words are used in the same sentence. This can cause confusion within your survey questions and results in the respondent answering in the opposite way that they intended to.

Example: Do you agree that boys who play football is not uncommon?
Better phrasing: Is it common for boys to play football, in your opinion?

Double Barreled Questions

Double-Barreled questions split questions into more than one part, idea or meaning. You may ask a question that includes two topics or ideas, but only allows the respondent to answer once. This is troublesome if your respondent has differing views on the two parts of your survey question.

Example: Does your home make you feel safe and warm?
Better phrasing: Do you feel safe in your home? and then ask, Does your home keep you warm?