People lie in polls, so how do you inspire truthful answers?


[Editor’s note: How many times have you embellished your answer when a survey asks how many times you exercise or how many units of alcohol you drink per week? Researchers found that 80% percent of people in the UK say they always provide truthful answers to surveys, but just 9% said they were prepared to trust published polls. This is an article by Bulbshare CEO, Matt Hay, which gets to the truth of the surveys, and explores some of the best ways available to brands and marketers to inspire truthful answers.]

There aren’t many studies looking at how often people lie. It is folly to assume that respondents will honestly answer questions about their level of sincerity. Nor is it socially desirable to call yourself a liar – even in an anonymous questionnaire. Nevertheless, a report published a few years ago by ORB International, a data store, tried to determine how many of us lie in questionnaires. While researchers found that 80% of people in the UK say they always provide truthful answers to surveys, respondents had a lower opinion of others. Only 9% said they were willing to trust published polls.

By: Matt Hay Sharing bulbs

This anecdote is familiar to people working in the field of sentiment collection for policy or market research. People generally think that they or they are true, while others are not. And on this last point, they are right. When it comes to revealing details about themselves, people very rarely provide truthful answers to surveys.

Stock-value spread

There is a noticeable disconnect between what people do and what they say they do. It concerns any action related to ethics, aspiration or self-esteem. In recent years, the most striking example of this can be found in research on how people take care of the environment. While everyone would agree that they care deeply about the myriad issues facing the planet, that sentiment likely doesn’t match the frequency with which individuals recycle, engage in environmental activism, or spend more on products. greens.

Market research giant GfK calls this kind of thing a gap between value and action. In a global study called Who cares, who does in collaboration with Europanel and Kantar, he found that 65% of consumers tried to buy more sustainably packaged products. However, only 29% consistently manage to avoid plastic packaging.

Separately, Kantar found that people overestimated how much they engaged in socially desirable activities, exaggerating how much they voted, recycled, or opted for organic produce at the supermarket. Meanwhile, they downplay how often they smoke, binge on fast food, or watch reality TV.

Empathetic inquiries

There is a way to inspire more truthful answers. Very simply, it is about designing questionnaires that inspire less shame in respondents. Someone who only enjoys a cigarette occasionally and in social scenarios might not call themselves a “smoker” if asked in a survey. They are more likely to give a direct answer with options such as “I am cutting down” or “I only smoke once in a while”. Giving people the chance to make excuses for themselves gets more truthful answers, but also more detailed ones.

Another technique is called deflection priming. It’s like a qualitative warm-up act, when you ask a question to lay the groundwork for a truthful answer to the next one. For example, many are tempted in surveys to exaggerate their level of education, saying they have attended college when they have not, according to Kantar researcher Jon Puleston. The solution, he writes, is to create a gentle introduction to the difficult question. So instead of asking “did you go to college?” at first, you first ask, “did you like school?”. It helps people to give a truthful answer, because it explains — in part — why they did not attend higher education.

As it becomes increasingly crucial for brands to understand why people spend, those designing studies will need to better spot the lies in the statistics.

At Bulbshare, our researchers are well versed in creating surveys that encourage truth – and we use built-in features that encourage instinctive responses and compile more accurate data. Want to know more about how we get to the truth on the matter? send me a note.

Porky Polls: People lie in polls, so how do you get to the facts?

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