An example of double-barreled question

If you’ve ever encountered a survey or questionnaire that left you confused or unsure how to answer, chances are it contained a double-barreled question. In this article, we’ll explore what double-barreled questions are, why they should be avoided, and provide practical tips on how to identify and steer clear of them in your own surveys. By understanding the pitfalls of double-barreled questions and implementing best practices, you’ll be well-equipped to design clear and effective survey.

What is a double-barreled question?

A double-barreled question is a type of survey question that combines two distinct ideas or concepts into a single question, making it difficult for respondents to provide accurate and meaningful answers. Instead of addressing one specific issue, double-barreled questions simultaneously present multiple topics or attributes, potentially leading to confusion, biased responses, or inaccurate data. Identifying and avoiding double-barreled questions is crucial for maintaining the integrity and reliability of survey results.

Double-barreled questions are problematic because they assume that respondents have the same opinion or experience for both parts of the question. This can lead to unreliable or misleading data as respondents may feel compelled to choose an option that doesn’t truly reflect their thoughts or experiences. Moreover, the presence of double-barreled questions can introduce bias and affect the overall validity of survey results.

Examples of double-barreled questions

Here are a few examples of double-barreled questions to illustrate their nature and potential issues they can introduce in surveys:

  1. “How satisfied are you with the product’s features and customer support?” This question combines two separate aspects, product features and customer support, assuming that respondents have the same level of satisfaction for both. However, a respondent might be satisfied with the product features but dissatisfied with the customer support, leading to an inaccurate representation of their true sentiment.
  2. “Did you find the website easy to navigate and visually appealing?” This question encompasses two different dimensions, website navigation and visual appeal. While one respondent may find the website easy to navigate but visually unappealing, another might have the opposite perception. By merging these attributes, the question fails to capture the distinct feedback on each aspect.
  3. “Are you likely to recommend the company based on its product quality and pricing?” Here, the question combines product quality and pricing, assuming they have an equal impact on a respondent’s likelihood to recommend the company. However, a respondent might highly value the product quality but find the pricing too high, leading to a mixed or unclear response.

These examples demonstrate how double-barreled questions can blur the lines between distinct attributes or concepts, potentially leading to ambiguous or inaccurate responses. By identifying and avoiding such questions, survey designers can gather more precise and reliable data from respondents.

Double-barreled employee survey question

Double-barreled questions can also appear in employee surveys, where gathering specific and unbiased feedback is important. Here are a few examples of double-barreled employee survey questions:

  1. “Do you feel that your manager provides clear directions and supports your professional growth?” This question combines two distinct aspects – clear directions and support for professional growth – assuming that they go hand in hand. However, an employee may feel that their manager provides clear directions but lacks support for their professional growth, or vice versa. Separating these two topics into individual questions would provide more accurate insights.
  2. “Are you satisfied with your salary and the work environment?” This question merges two different factors – salary satisfaction and work environment satisfaction – assuming they have equal influence on overall employee satisfaction. However, an employee may be satisfied with their salary but dissatisfied with the work environment, or vice versa. Asking separate questions about salary satisfaction and work environment satisfaction would allow for a more nuanced understanding.
  3. “Do you feel that your workload is manageable and you have enough opportunities for skill development?” This question combines workload management and skill development opportunities, assuming they are interdependent. However, an employee may feel that their workload is manageable but lacks sufficient opportunities for skill development, or vice versa. By addressing these two aspects separately, the survey can capture more accurate feedback.

It is crucial to identify and rectify double-barreled questions in employee surveys to obtain reliable insights. Ensuring that each question focuses on one specific aspect or concept allows employees to provide precise and meaningful feedback, leading to more effective decision-making and improvements within the organization.

Double-barreled customer survey question

Double-barreled questions can also make their way into customer surveys, potentially leading to confusing or inaccurate responses. Here are a few examples of double-barreled customer survey questions:

  1. “How satisfied are you with the product quality and the speed of delivery?” This question combines two separate aspects – product quality and delivery speed – assuming they have equal importance to the customer’s overall satisfaction. However, a customer might be satisfied with the product quality but dissatisfied with the delivery speed, or vice versa. The survey can gather more precise feedback by separating these attributes into distinct questions.
  2. “Did you find the customer service representatives knowledgeable and helpful?” This question combines two distinct qualities of customer service representatives – knowledge and helpfulness – assuming they are directly related. However, a customer might find a representative knowledgeable but unhelpful, or helpful but lacking in knowledge. The survey can capture more accurate perceptions by asking separate questions about knowledge and helpfulness.
  3. “How likely are you to recommend our company based on the product features and pricing?” This question merges two different factors – product features and pricing – assuming they hold equal weight in a customer’s likelihood to recommend. However, a customer might highly value the product features but find the pricing too high, resulting in mixed or unclear feedback. Asking separate questions about product features and pricing allows for more precise insights.

Organizations can obtain clearer and more accurate customer feedback by identifying and eliminating double-barreled questions in customer surveys. This, in turn, helps in identifying areas of improvement, making informed decisions, and ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

How to avoid writing double-barreled questions

To avoid writing double-barreled questions and ensure clarity and accuracy in your surveys, follow these best practices:

  1. Focus on one topic: Each question should address a single concept, attribute, or aspect. Clearly define the question’s objective and stick to that specific topic throughout.
  2. Keep it concise: Make sure the question is concise and straightforward. Avoid unnecessary elaboration or inclusion of multiple ideas within the same question.
  3. Separate multiple concepts: If you have multiple concepts or attributes to address, split them into separate questions. This allows respondents to provide individual feedback for each aspect, ensuring accurate and meaningful responses.
  4. Use clear and specific language: Be precise and unambiguous in your question wording. Use clear and specific language to avoid confusion or misinterpretation.
  5. Test for clarity: Before finalizing your survey, test the questions with a small group of individuals to ensure they understand the intent and can provide accurate responses. Adjust any questions that seem unclear or lead to confusion.
  6. Review and revise: Take time to review your survey questions and identify any potential double-barreled elements. Look for instances where multiple concepts or attributes are combined, and consider splitting them into separate questions for improved accuracy.
  7. Seek feedback: If possible, seek feedback from colleagues or experts in survey design to ensure your questions are free from double-barreled elements. External perspectives can help identify any potential issues you might have overlooked.

By following these practices, you can minimize the risk of including double-barreled questions in your surveys and collect more accurate and meaningful data from respondents. Clear and focused questions lead to improved survey results, providing valuable insights for decision-making and enhancing the overall quality of your research.