How to avoid double-barreled questions in a survey?


How to avoid double-barreled questions in a survey? Survey chaining
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When writing survey questions, if you are not careful about the structure and words of the question, you may fall victim to response biases. You may have heard about general survey best practices, such as avoiding leading or ambiguous questions. This blog will discuss double-barreled questions and how to avoid them. 

Let’s start by discussing what these questions are to comprehend how it confuses responses and leads to perplexing outcomes.

What is a double-barreled question?

How to avoid double-barreled questions in a survey? Survey chaining

The question in the image is an example of a double-barreled question. 

A double-barreled question is a type of question that combines two separate questions into one. In a survey this can create confusion or ambiguity. It makes it unclear which question the respondent is answering. 

This leaves the respondents confused, which leads to survey drop-offs or skewed results. Respondents may decide to go ahead and share their feedback, but now you don’t know for what part of the question they gave the score. 

It is important to be aware of double-barreled survey questions and avoid them to ensure clear communication with respondents. One way to avoid this survey error is to ask each question separately rather than combining them.

Why should you avoid double-barreled questions?

Researchers often include double-barrelled questions in a survey without realizing what they are doing wrong. 

This question type can lead to confusion and ambiguity among respondents. The respondents will have a hard time understanding and answering the question correctly. Participants can only choose one answer option for each question; thus, you can never be sure which question they intend to answer. As a result, you’ve lost the chance to gather insightful responses to both questions.

Compound questions lose your audience’s attention and cost you money. Conducting more surveys to compensate for not doing it correctly the first time would increase your study’s price and probably give you a splitting headache.

Read how Voxco helped Coyne Research boost productivity by 100%.

How to make your surveys free of double-barreled questions?

How to avoid double-barreled questions in a survey? Survey chaining

It is easy to correct surveys with confusing questions. Let’s examine the three simplest strategies to guarantee the current and future effectiveness of your survey questions.

1. Split the survey question

Splitting a question into two halves is the simplest solution for a double-barreled question. This has two advantages: 

☑ It prevents confusion among your respondents. 

☑ Allows you to interpret the data more precisely.

Did your most recent purchase satisfy your needs, and would you make a similar purchase?

If a consumer had responded “yes,” you wouldn’t know if they meant that their most recent purchase satisfied their needs or if they would think about purchasing the item again. 

And if the answer was “no,” it’s probable that although the purchase satisfied their needs, they had a bad shopping experience and would not repurchase the item.

In any case, based just on the survey results, you would have no way of understanding their genuine opinion, including what went right or wrong.

The split-out fix would be as follows:

  • Did your most recent purchase satisfy your needs?
  • What likelihood do you have of buying the product again?

2. Align the questions to your survey objective

Another solution to avoid double-barreled questions would be to deliberately ask more questions that exactly correspond to your survey objectives.

Are you satisfied with hybrid work or prefer working from home?

The question is a little bit hazy. Consider asking yourself whether you’d like feedback on your employees’ general experience with hybrid working or about the resources they require to be successful at both homes and work to help clarify the question. Which question, in the end, is more aligned with the survey’s objective?

The easiest strategy to gather useful feedback to help you achieve your goals is to align your questions with the survey’s main objective.

Related read: How to conduct survey research?

3. Run tests before deploying the survey

Last but not least, proofread. Before submitting the survey, read your questions again (twice or thrice) to ensure no questions confuse people.

Send a test survey to a coworker to get their feedback on the questions. Ask them to check all the questions to ensure that the survey is clear and faithful to your aims.

Additional read: 30 customers experience survey questions to ask your customers.

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Examples of double-barreled questions

Following are the double-barreled survey question examples.

1. Rate your satisfaction with your pay and workplace environment?

Some folks could be content with their pay but despise their workplace. This suggests that they only stay put to pay their debts. The workplace environment may be unpleasant and oppressive even when the income is excellent. So it makes sense to separate the questions for more accurate feedback.

  • How satisfied are you with your pay?
  • How happy are you with the workplace environment?

2. Which is preferable: increasing unemployment benefits or creating more jobs?

This is another example of double-barreled questions. Given how the questions are phrased, it would be challenging to ascertain the genuine stand of the public’s opinions. If the respondents’ desire is either additional jobs or welfare benefits, how would they properly respond to the questions?

Two questions addressing the many issues are the best course of action.

  • Should the government increase job creation?
  • Should the government expand its assistance programs for unemployed workers?

3. What relationships do you have with your managers and colleagues?

This question asks two questions. You frequently engage with the persons being mentioned. Depending on how they are categorized, their relationship is varied.

Separating the questions in this manner would be the most effective way to evaluate the connection between your managers and leaders;

  • How well-adjusted are you to your managers at work?
  • How would you define your work relationship with colleagues?

Additional read: Types of surveys with examples.

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Common survey question errors to avoid

Other than double-barreled questions, let’s look at common survey question mistakes to avoid in your survey. While creating the survey and research study questions, double-barreled survey questions are not the only type to avoid. Refrain from asking these questions for the most accurate survey results.

1. Avoid leading questions

Avoid at all costs framing the question in a way that compels the respondent to focus on a certain aspect. Such questions are frequently referred to as biased or leading questions. Answer selection should be entirely up to the respondent.

Because respondents get tired of attempting to figure out answers for questions that are either just difficult to read or overtly biased, biased questions are to blame for high survey dropout rates.

This is why the language of survey questions is crucial since it can affect the respondents, who can then impact the validity of the data gathered. 

“How likely is it you would recommend our customer’s favorite digital watch to your friends or families? 

The question may appear like a regular question evaluating the likelihood of a recommendation. However, the term ‘customer’s favorite’ makes it a leading question. It tells the respondent that the ‘digital watch’ is well-liked and pushes them to respond positively. 

Instead, ask 

How likely are you to recommend our digital watch to your friends and families?

2. Avoid loaded questions

Loaded or assumptive questions are another “survey don’t” along with double-barreled questions. It makes assumptions about the survey respondent, forcing them to select an answer they may disagree with.

Here’s an example:

From where do you like to buy product X?

The issue with responding to a question like this is that it presupposes the person likes the product. However, many people don’t like or want it, so they can’t honestly respond to the question.

Pre-test your survey to ensure that every question includes a response that will encourage the respondent to provide an honest response.

Instead of asking the question above, ask this: 

Q. Do you like the product?

  • Yes 
  • No

Depending on the responses from the respondents, the skip logic tool can assist you in focusing on the survey questions.

3. Avoid absolute questions

Absolute questions put respondents in a difficult position where they cannot provide helpful feedback. Typically, these questions feature a Yes/No response option as well as words like “always,” “all,” “ever,” and “never.”

❎“Do you regularly buy cosmetics from our store?”

Most respondents would be compelled to state no in the scenario above directly. The question is strict, making it impossible to respond. Giving them several options is the best approach to a question like this.

Q. How many times do you visit our store to purchase cosmetics?

  • Once a week
  • More than once a week
  • Every other week
  • I don’t visit your store
  • Self-response____

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Double-barreled questions are troublesome because they produce biased data and unreliable results, which can make it difficult for you to make conclusive business decisions. Follow the tips to avoid writing confusing questions and gathering skewed data. 

If you are looking for online survey tools that allow you to gather data, measure sentiment, uncover insights, and act on them, you are at the right place. Voxco offers 100+ question types, advanced logic, multiple distribution channels, a data analysis platform, a real-time dashboard, and more all in one platform.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is a double-barreled question?

The most common type of survey error is the double-barreled question. Such questions frequently creep their way into surveys, whether on purpose or due to ignorance or carelessness and skew the accuracy of the results.

2. How do you avoid bias in a survey?

Avoid framing survey questions so that respondents are influenced to respond a certain way. Be concise and clear. To avoid misunderstandings, keep your language as simple as possible. 

3. What other types of questions types should you avoid?

There are several question types, other than double-barreled questions; you should avoid in your surveys. These are: 

  1. Leading questions.
  2. Loaded or assumptive questions. 
  3. Absolute questions. 

4. When should you use double-barreled questions?

You can use a double-barreled question in your survey if the two questions are closely related and the respondent’s answer can be considered for both. However, it is best to avoid using double-barreled questions to ensure better understanding and quality data.

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