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Differences Between Leading vs. Loaded Questions and Why They Matter

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The different types of questions you ask and the way you ask them can each have an influence on your audience. It’s actually a lot easier to create bias or persuade participants to answer a certain type of way than you might think. So, rather than letting bias sneak up and change the outcome of your surveys, it’s important to understand leading and loaded questions. Better yet, it’s important to understand leading vs. loaded questions.

What is a Leading Question?

A good place to start is with a thorough understanding of what a leading question is. Simply put, a leading question is a type of question that leads respondents to answer a certain way. Specifically, to the answer that the survey-taker wants them to choose.

 

Say if a company were to want a client to sign a contract. Rather than asking them if they would like to participate and get started, they would ask them when they would like to get started. This type of question leads them to say when they would like to get started rather than even giving them the option to decide if they even want to.

 

This is unfair to the potential client even though it may help the company.

Types of Leading Questions

There are a few types of leading questions you may not even be aware you’re asking in your surveys!

Assumption-based leading questions

This type of question is asked with preconceived notions that the person giving the survey holds themself. For example, if you are to ask a respondent how much they enjoyed your product or service. This question presumes they enjoyed using your product or service without even asking. If the respondent did not enjoy the product or services then they wouldn’t necessarily be answering honestly.

Direct implication leading questions

This is a type of leading question that gets respondents to think about results that would eventually happen in the event something else happens. This would be something like “If you like your haircut, would you be interested in coming back soon?” The question is asked based on an implication.

Scale-based leading questions

A scale-based leading question is an unfair type of question where a scale is marked to tip it in the survey-takers favor. The scale is weighted with positive responses outnumbering the negatives. More options on the satisfied side means that participants are more likely to choose an answer in that direction.

Leading questions with interconnected statements

When two closely related statements are combined it’s called a leading question with an interconnected statement. The person asking the question may start with a statement that puts a bias in the respondent’s head and then follows it with a question that will agree with that statement. For example: “Many employees dislike working in office. How do you feel about this?”

Coercive leading questions

The last type of leading question we will discuss forces a specific answer. Coercive questions are more aggressive than other types of leading questions. A few examples include “Our services adequately met your needs, didn’t they?” or “You’ll share your positive experience on social media, won’t you?”

Leading vs Loaded Questions

So, what’s the real difference when it comes to leading vs loaded questions? The quick answer to this is that a leading question prompts someone to provide a certain answer and a loaded question is more of a trick question. It makes someone answer something they may not even agree with.

 

Here are a few examples of loaded questions:

 

  • Our company is amazing, will you continue to support it?
  • When did you stop abusing your child?
  • Do you think this criminal is someone who should be convicted?
  • Are you gullible enough to believe the government or do you simply not care about the truth?

How to Avoid Biased Questions

As we mentioned, there are times where you may be asking biased questions without even realizing it! Here are some ways to avoid asking biased questions and make sure your surveys are as honest as possible.

 

  •   Double check your question and ensure it doesn’t use any language that may be biased. You shouldn’t suggest one way is better than another.
  •   Reword your questions to focus on all options, not just one. Your respondents shouldn’t just be confirming what you believe to be true.
  •   Examine your questions and consider if they require users to give an answer that only shows a portion of their response. Separate any grouped questions and avoid making any assumptions with your questions.

Set Up Your Next Survey

Setting up your next survey is made easy with online polling software like Swift Polling. You’re sure to love our beautiful designs and the fact that our surveys are easy to set up. To create your first poll and sign up for free, click here.

 

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