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Survey Question Red-Flag Words

Posted: Mar 10, 2014

Red Flag Words

Red Flag words in survey questions are those that should be avoided at all costs.  These often result in creating Leading Questions or Loaded Questions or just introduce general opinion bias.

Why are these bad?

Leading Questions are those that steer users into thinking something before they have time to cultivate the thought themselves.  Loaded Questions are those that make the respondent feel better about themselves before they answer the question resulting in a more positive attitude.  Opinion Bias is very dangerous in a survey because it taints your results and provides you with false data.

How do Red Flags work?

The Red Flag words below are those that generally convey a sense of bias.  They are words that make the respondent think something that they shouldn't.  For example let's look at the following question. What is your opinion of ABC Corps so-called customer service tool? Even though you know nothing about ABC Corps product, this type of question created a pre conceived assumption in your mind.  In this case it is a negative Red Flag word so you have a negative outlook on ABC Corps product event hough you know nothing about it. Instead - try wording your question like this: What is your opinion of ABC Corps customer service tool? Do you see the difference?  in the second example nothing was lost.  The importance of the question is still conveyed properly.  The absence of the Red Flag word in the survey question allows the respondent to answer naturally conveying their true opinion.

Red Flag Word influence over the Undecided

It is true that there are respondents in your Survey who would be unaffected by your use of Red Flag words.  However let's look at a typical Presidential Election in the US.  The majority of the time is spent convincing the undecided voters who they should vote for.  In the same fashion, Red Flag words have the most impact over those who do not have strong opinions.  In surveys, Red Flag words make finding a decision fast and easy for them.  They choose the easy route and just want to move on.

Red Flag Words

Here is a sample list of Red-Flag words that should be avoided in your survey questions:

  • Allege
  • Allude
  • Arbitrary
  • Blame
  • Claim
  • Demand
  • Error
  • Failure
  • Fault
  • Ignore
  • Incompetence
  • Incomplete
  • Ineptness
  • Insist
  • Just
  • Maintain
  • Misinformed
  • Must
  • Neglected
  • One-Side
  • Only
  • Overreact
  • Purport
  • Questionable
  • Reject
  • Rigid
  • So-Called
  • Unfortunately
  • Unreasonable
  • Unless
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