What are some ways to avoid acquiescence bias in your surveys?
- Keep your survey short
- Revise your questions
- Help your respondent focus
- Get respondents from the right demographic
- Be as neutral as possible
- Be transparent
Getting feedback from your customers or clients is essential for the growth of any business. The data that you get from whatever form of feedback they give should help nudge you in the right direction. But bias is something unavoidable. Acquiescence bias in surveys is the high likelihood of respondents choosing the most agreeable options in surveys. There are ways to avoid acquiescence bias in surveys, but not everybody knows them well enough.
Acquiescence bias tends to skew the results of a survey to seem more positive falsely. If you have any idea what you’re doing, then you know the importance of a “no” in a survey. Try to apply some of these tips to your surveys to keep your respondents honest and free of bias.
Keep Your Survey Short
One of the biggest reasons for acquiescence bias (and some other biases) is survey fatigue. A lengthy survey with difficult-to-answer questions will make the respondent want to just get it over with. The more your respondents get exhausted, the less they’d want to think about and give proper answers. Then they’d just click on “yes”, “I agree”, or “very satisfied”.
This notorious phenomenon can sabotage your survey’s effectiveness drastically, from response rates to skewed results. To avoid this, you should keep your survey short and simple but still try to get the most information possible.
Revise Your Questions
How you formulate your survey questions can directly affect how the respondents respond to them. The wording itself might be interpreted differently by the respondents.
For example, questions that can be answered by “yes/no” or “agree/disagree” have higher chances of being affected by acquiescence bias. Instead, try to provide a spectrum of answers to let the respondent be more specific in their response.
Asking a participant how much they agree to a statement is much less direct than asking the question implied by the statement. For this, it is better to be clear in your wording of the question.
Leaning towards more open-ended questions instead of multiple-choice questions can also avoid acquiescence bias. By giving them the option to answer freely, the respondents will be able to express themselves better than with simple “agree/disagree” options.
Help Your Respondent Focus
If your respondents don’t clearly understand the question, then they might choose to agree without thinking about it. Vague questions can have the same effect.
Your survey shouldn’t be difficult for your participants to answer. To help them, introduce ways for them to focus on the question at hand in your survey. You can keep one question for each page, or add subtitles to your questions if they are too vague. Either way, giving your respondents a helping hand can help against acquiescence bias.
Get Respondents From the Right Demographic
Avoiding biases can start from choosing which respondents you want for your survey. Getting participants that come from different countries might contribute to acquiescence bias because of the differences in backgrounds. This would also mean that your questions should be able to accommodate any nationality of each respondent.
If you get participants from a specific demographic for your survey, then there is a lesser risk for acquiescence bias, especially if the survey falls under the interests of the participants.
Be as Neutral as Possible
As a researcher, you should be sensitive about your role in the process of doing a survey. The researchers can produce bias in respondents themselves. Your respondents know that there are people behind the survey. What more if you conduct the survey face to face? This means that if they answer sensitive questions, they know people will be looking at it. So instead of choosing their true answer, they could go for the safest and most favorable option instead.
Sometimes, questions have to be asked about their emotional positions. Keeping your survey as neutral as possible will help the respondents feel free to answer what they want and not what they think you want to hear.
The key to battling survey anxiety is by being transparent. Just tell the respondents everything they need to know about your survey. After all, if you’re not doing anything unethical, then you should be able to tell them.
What is the survey for? What will you do after acquiring the results? How will the survey help you and your respondent? If a respondent is well-informed, they will be more motivated to answer properly and avoid any kind of bias.
Getting the proper feedback from your clients and customers without bias can build your business up. Try following these ways to avoid acquiescence bias in surveys and the results should speak for themselves. Use the right tools and apply the right techniques and your survey should be good to go.