Double Barrelled Questions

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Double Barrelled Questions

Seasoned survey professionals are keenly aware of the importance of crafting clear, concise, and unambiguous questions. This is where the topic of this explainer comes into play; specifically the importance of understanding and avoiding double barrelled questions in surveys.

We'll cover what they are, why they matter, give examples from different industry surveys, and finally look at how to avoid them. Lets dive in.

What are double barrelled questions?

Double-barrelled questions, also commonly referred to as "compound questions", are questions that touch on two different topics but allow only one answer.

It's like trying to hit two targets with one arrow. Not an easy feat, and when used in surveys are likely to lead to skewed results.

Why compound questions are problematic

Here's the rub: double barrelled questions introduce a significant level of ambiguity into your survey responses. When respondents are forced to provide a single answer to a question covering two separate issues, it's unclear which aspect the response relates to. This lack of clarity can muddle your data, making it challenging to draw accurate conclusions.

But how do these two-for-one questions sneak into our surveys? Consider the following example:

How satisfied are you with your job's salary and working conditions?

Here, the respondent's satisfaction with their salary is a separate issue from their satisfaction with working conditions. Bundling these distinct factors into a single question results in murky, uninterpretable data.

The issue is that these questions can lead to false assumptions and inaccurate data interpretation. For instance, if a respondent indicates dissatisfaction with the above question, we can't discern whether they're unhappy with their salary, their working conditions, or both. It's akin to trying to navigate through a maze blindfolded: you're unlikely to find your way to accurate insights.

Examples of double barrelled questions

Let's delve a bit deeper with some additional examples from a variety of industries. Understanding how compound questions can sneak into different kinds of surveys can help us avoid them in our own:

Healthcare survey example

Do you feel that your doctor spends enough time with you and adequately addresses your concerns?

This question assumes that the amount of time spent with the doctor and the quality of care received (addressing concerns) are one and the same, which may not always be the case.

Customer survey example

Did our customer service representative resolve your issue quickly and professionally?

Speed and professionalism, though often related, are two distinct aspects of customer service and should be separated into individual questions.

Hospitality survey example

Were the hotel staff friendly and was your room clean?

The respondent might have found the staff exceptionally friendly but their room not so clean. This question should be split to accurately gage both staff behavior and cleanliness standards.

Market research survey example

How would you rate our product's price and quality?

Both price and quality contribute to a product's value perception, but they aren't the same thing. Respondents might perceive your product as high-quality but overpriced, or affordable but of mediocre quality.

Employee survey example

Do you feel that your workload is manageable and your tasks interesting?

While workload and task interest could be related, an employee might find their workload manageable but their tasks dull and uninspiring.

Education survey example

Do you believe your teacher is knowledgeable and presents the material in an engaging way?

A teacher can be very knowledgeable yet struggle to present the material in an engaging manner. These are two separate aspects of effective teaching that should be evaluated independently.

Each of these examples demonstrates a different way in which compound questions can creep into a survey, causing potential confusion for respondents and yielding less precise data for analysis. By recognizing and addressing these issues, we can improve the clarity and usefulness of our survey results.

Strategies to avoid double barrelled questions

Simplify your questions

One antidote to double barreled questions is simplicity; make sure to keep questions uncomplicated and focus on just one topic at a time. For example, instead of asking about salary and working conditions in one question, you should separate them into two distinct questions.

Break down complex questions into simpler parts

Another strategy is to deconstruct complex issues into several simpler questions. This approach can ensure you cover all necessary ground without confusing your respondents or compromising your data quality.

Leverage question banks and templates

A benefit of SaaS survey software is access to comprehensive question banks and templates. These resources offer a wealth of well-formulated, single-focus questions, providing both inspiration and guidance in designing your own questions.

Review and test your survey

Finally, never underestimate the power of a thorough review and pre-test of your survey. This process can help you spot and eliminate any lurking double barrelled questions before your survey goes live, ensuring your data's integrity.

The importance of single-focused questions

As we've explored today, compound questions are a bit like unwelcome gate crashers at your data party. They muddy the waters, leading to potential misinterpretation of your data and ultimately compromising the quality of your insights. With some care and attention, though, these unwanted guests can be shown the door, making way for clear, precise, and single-focused questions.

Investing time and effort in constructing thoughtful, well-crafted survey questions is crucial. It's not just about keeping those pesky double barreled questions at bay, t's about paving the way to high-quality data and reliable, actionable insights. So remember, keep your focus singular, your approach thoughtful, and let your SaaS survey software be your trusty sidekick in your quest for unambiguous, accurate data.

Improve your question choices with SmartSurvey

Our survey software has a plethora of features designed to assist you in crafting top-notch questions. From a library of pre-formulated, single-focus questions to intuitive design features that make it easy to split complex questions, these tools are your ally in banishing compound questions.

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