Types of Response Bias How to avoid them

Types of Response Bias: How to avoid them?

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Researchers have their hands full when they have to conduct surveys using survey software. They have to select a sample of respondents and decide how to conduct the survey. When designing survey questions in a market research tool, they have to decide what question type to use, and on top of it, they have to make sure to avoid any type of response bias. Biased data can render the survey useless. 

We will list a few common types of response bias and how you can avoid its impact on your survey result.

Acquiescence Bias

When the survey participants feel inclined to respond positively to the questions to please the researcher, it results in Acquiescence Bias. 

The respondents’ answers would be mostly “Yes” or “Very Satisfied,” even if it may not be the true reflection of their opinion. 

Such bias may also occur when respondents feel survey fatigue. They may start randomly agreeing with your statement without thinking about their answer. 

  • To avoid this, the best way is to phrase the question differently. For example, instead of asking; 

Please rate this question on a scale of 1(strongly disagree) to 5(strongly agree). “I am stratified with the in-store experience.” 

You should simply ask; 

How satisfactory or unsatisfactory was your experience today in our store?

Dissent Bias

A Dissent bias is caused when respondents disagree with every statement or question in your survey. It is the exact opposite of Acquiescence Bias. 

There could be several reasons for this type of response; the respondent could be intentionally selecting negative responses without reading the question. Or, they could be choosing random answers to complete the survey faster.

  • Just like Acquiescence Bias, you may need to take a look at your questions and rephrase them.

Social Desirability Bias

Respondents may sometimes choose an answer that they believe is socially acceptable. Such answers may not be true to their own belief, and this may lead to Social Desirability Bias. You can identify this type of response bias when you see a higher no. of desirable answers from the respondents. 

Questions like, “Do you think it is okay to smoke in a school parking lot?” The answer to such a question will always be no because of the societal viewpoint. 

Social Desirability Bias can lead to over-reporting or under-reporting of a statement. Whatever the data shows, it will skew the data. 

    • To prevent this type of bias, you should conduct the survey anonymously. The respondent should be assured that their identity will be kept hidden; this will take off the pressure to agree with society. 

If possible, you can also try to conduct one-on-one interviews somewhere where the respondent will be comfortable and relaxed. 

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Extreme Response Bias

The name is enough to explain how this bias occurs. Respondents answer survey questions with answers on the extreme end of the options list. This answer could be either of the extremes – positive or negative. 

Extreme Bias has a higher possibility of occurring on a question that offers a scale such as a rating scale of 1 to 5 or agree-disagree scale. For example, “How much did you like the new Burger?” Many may respond with a 5 star or a 1 star. 

Some respondents have the tendency to choose extreme responses. It could come from their indifference towards the survey. Cultural influence may also result in Extreme Bias. 

    • To avoid such problems, researchers can make the survey anonymous. 
    • The researcher should also carefully structure the question to avoid words that may influence the respondent to answer in a particular way.

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Neutral Bias

Neutral Bias is the exact opposite of Extreme Bias. This occurs when participants go for the neutral answer for most questions. 

This may happen if the respondent is not confident to share their actual thought to avoid being judged. The respondent may simply not be interested in the survey and thus selects the neutral option to complete the survey fast. Too many answer options can also cause this. The respondent may feel confused and decide to choose the easy answer. 

  • To prevent this type of bias from ruining your survey data, you should try to keep the survey as short as possible. Long surveys may make respondents feel survey fatigue.
  • You can also use dichotomous questions. This way, you limit their options and force them to offer a view instead of just selecting the easy answer. 

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