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📋 Creating biased-free survey questions

Considerations when writing political survey questions

Writing statistically insightful survey questions is hard — there is a whole science behind it! To get you started on CivicBell, we recommend avoiding the following four pitfalls:

❌ Avoid leading questions

  • A leading question assigns positive or negative context, which may influence respondent answers.
    • Leading: How strongly do you approve of the dutiful mayor?
    • Non-leading: How would you rate your approval of the incumbent mayor?
  • This leading question implies strong approval and depicts the mayor as dutiful. Instead, replace these leading elements with neutral language.

❌ Avoid loaded questions

  • A loaded question assumes the answer to an underlying question.
    • Loaded: Which candidate will you vote for?
    • Non-loaded: Which candidate do you prefer?
    • Non-loaded: If you plan on voting, which candidate will you vote for?
  • This loaded question presumes that the respondent will be voting. Instead, reframe the question to explicitly target your desired respondent or generalize the question to better incorporate respondents.

❌ Avoid multiple questions at a time

  • Separate several topics into multiple questions: refrain from asking multiple questions in one.
    • Multiple: Would you support an increase in school funding and a higher public works budget?

❌ Avoid binary questions

  • Yes/No questions are a great way to receive sentiment, but they don’t allow participants to be “indifferent” or “undecided”.
  • Always have, e.g. an “undecided” or “indifferent” option available when asking Yes/No questions to truly understand which of the participants are for or against something.