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Our Survey Methodology – How We Design Questions to avoid Biases

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With its multiple-choice questions (MCQ) format and short open-ended questions, online surveys are often the simplest way to gather information on a wide range of topics. That’s why it is a popular research tool for collecting opinions about social issues in Singapore and the reason why HappyDot.sg uses them as well. Nevertheless, it is vital to ensure that the information is collected accurately and that there are limited biases influencing the results.

Bias in research refers to anything that may influence the research results in any way. Examples include asking leading questions that make the respondents answer the way the researchers want, or not interpreting the results correctly. For social issues, conducting biased research is dangerous, as the results may not reflect the true opinions of the respondents and create false information. This, in turn, makes it harder to properly understand social issues and to find ways to improve them.

How HappyDot.sg Ensures That Our Surveys Steers Away From Biasness

As humans, we often have our own biases that are a result of our upbringing and our life experiences. Since survey questions are designed by humans, there are chances of unintentional bias being introduced. That’s why it is important to be aware of such biases and take steps to avoid them as much as possible. Essentially, there are three steps that can be done to ensure surveys collect accurate information from the respondents

  1. Thematic Approach

    For online survey sites that conduct research on social issues in Singapore, having a thematic approach ensures that all issues are given proper attention. This can be done by rolling out monthly ‘themes’ that each center around one specific issue (e.g. healthcare, transportation,  technology). Surveys related to that theme can be sent to respondents so that opinions can be collected and articles can be written about the topic at hand.

    Having a thematic approach to surveys helps in reducing confirmation bias – which is a tendency to seek out information that supports your own values. By sending out surveys and publishing articles on different topics each month, respondents can learn more about different social issues and be exposed to varying perspectives.
  1. Quick & Neutral Engagement Polls

    Respondent fatigue is another bias that is common in research. This refers to respondents not answering questions properly as they are overwhelmed – either by the number of questions or the number of surveys they have to do. Why does it happen? It may come as no surprise, but thinking takes up a lot of energy for our brains. To conserve energy, our brains may go into ‘autopilot mode’ – especially for time-consuming tasks. This is why it is good practice to ensure that online surveys take less than 15 minutes to complete so that respondents can answer the questions properly. What’s more, HappyDot.sg even has quick polls where it takes less than 1 minute to give a response!

    A survey with leading questions usually does not provide accurate information about the respondents’ opinions. These types of questions are worded in such a way that it makes the respondent give an answer that the researcher wants to hear (confirmation bias). For example, a company asking their customers, “How helpful are our friendly staff?” is a leading question because it assumes that the staff was friendly. This may result in respondents subconsciously thinking that the staff was friendly and, in turn, give them a higher rating. As you can see, the data collected may not be correct or reflect reality. Therefore, survey questions should be worded as neutrally as possible so that the actual opinions of people can be uncovered.
  1. Asking The Right Questions To The Right People

    Social issues often have to do with how they affect people’s daily lives – which is why it is crucial to ask people who are likely to be impacted by certain social issues about their opinions. This is the main reason why many online survey sites collect demographic data (e.g. your age, your job type, housing situation) so that they can send the right types of surveys to the right people.

    Moreover, for some social issues, results gathered from MCQs may not be enough to fully understand them. This is why open-ended questions are included so that respondents can express their opinions in a more complete way.

Creating A Community That Embraces Diverse Perspectives

Here at HappyDot.sg, we believe that every opinion is valuable. Hence, our mission is to provide a channel for Singapore residents to share their thoughts and feelings and be heard. All of us experience the world differently, and it is only by allowing different viewpoints to be heard can we work towards creating an inclusive community for people from all walks of life.

 

Whether you want to get your opinions heard or learn more about current issues in Singapore, HappyDot.sg is the community for you! Join us today to take part in our surveys and quick polls!