Biased Questions

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The word “bias” means “partiality”, “unfairness”, “favoritism”.

A Biased Question is a question worded in such a way that a particular answer is favored over others.

Biased questions are also referred to as “leading questions” as it leads or steers the respondents to a certain response. Biased questions influence people to answer in a way that does not just reflect their stance.

Surveys often ask biased questions. Surveys are useful for getting feedback and suggestions from a group of people. It is important that the questions asked in a survey are NOT biased. Question should not be asked in such a way as to insist on a certain response. Because, biased questions affect the outcome of a survey.

Biased questions yield biased data. The survey questions should be as neutral as possible to provide fair results.

Let’s discuss biased questions more in detail with examples.

    • Biased questions often reflect the questioners’ opinion of the situation.

Example 1

Bob asked David “You don’t like this pair of jeans, Do you?” It’s clear that “NO” is the response expected from David.

Instead, Bob could revise his question as follows:

“Do you like this pair of jeans?”

Example 

Sally asked Sarah “Don’t you agree that the new rule is a problem?”

Sally’s question is biased. The question leads Sarah to agree with Sally’s view.

Sally has in fact phrased her opinion in the form of a question. Instead Sally could ask the following question:

“Do you agree or disagree that the new rule is a problem?”

    • In a survey, the questions should NOT be designed to favor certain outcomes.

For example:

The question “Do you want to eat a hamburger or the usual vegetable sandwich?” is unfair, because it favors hamburger over vegetable sandwich.

    • Usually companies use biased questions in their advertisements or marketing surveys to make people favor their products over others.

Example 1

The following is a biased question posed by XYZ Beauty Company.

More people in the City are using our beauty products than any other brand. Do you use our beauty products?

A. Yes

B. No

Clearly the question indicates that the respondent should be using XYZ beauty products.

Example 2

A company manufactures product A. The company conducts a survey about the product. The following is one of the questions in the questionnaire.

How would you rate our product?

A. Excellent

B. Good

C. Satisfactory

The question is biased, because, NO negative option is provided.

    • A biased question makes assumptions that may or may not be true.

For example:

The question “Is green your favorite color?” is asked based on an assumption.

The person to whom this question is asked may or may not like green color.

Solved Example on Biased Question

Is the following question biased? Say yes or no. 

‘Do you watch movies directed by Steven Spielberg’?

Solution:

No, the given question is not biased, because neither does it favor one answer over others nor does it make any assumption.

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