Balancing scales

As a young researcher learning the art of questionnaire design it was drummed into me that you should avoid leading questions at any cost. Questions that hint at an answer such as “How much will prices go up next year?” should be replaced with neutral questions such as “What do you think will happen to prices next year?”.

As well as the question text the answer choices provided to respondents can also bias response. In the example below respondents are given the choice of “Agree”, “Disagree” or “Agree in part”. The agree in part answer looks to have been tacked on the end after someone realised that you could agree with just some of the text presented rather than all of it.

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The inclusion of 2 “agree” answers and just 1 “disagree” answer suggests that respondents should agree to the text. The scale is unbalanced. The answer alternatives would have been better as:

  • Completely agree
  • Mostly agree
  • Mostly disagree
  • Completely disagree

Related posts:

Constructing rating scales

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