Effect of Question Order on the Completion Rate of Online Poll

Whether you use a free poll or a paid online polling tool to create your surveys, the question order you follow can have a direct effect on the responses you will get from your respondents.

This effect is sometimes most evident in the field of politics. When a poll maker asks people about the most important issue faced by the country, the answer they will give will be the object of focus for the answer they give to the next question. When the follow up question is whether they disapprove or approve how the president handles his job, most of the time, the respondents will answer the approval question while they judge the president mainly on how he handles the issue they consider as the most important.

It is a common phenomenon called priming. The respondents are being primed to think of a particular issue while they answer the next question.

Priming will have an effect even when the survey topic is not related to politics or not even controversial at all. For example, if your first question is about the favorite sport of a respondent, this may not be suitable if your next question is if they have any interest in participating on a company basketball team. When basketball is not high on your respondent’s list of favorite sports, they might be tempted to rate their interest lower in being part of the company team than if you ask about the team first before their favorite sport.

One more reason why the order of questions matters is that your respondents may feel the need of being as consistent as possible in their answers. For instance, when you ask a student to ask an extremely mind boggling math problem first before you ask them if they enjoy the math subject, they could be tempted to have a lower interest rate if they had difficulties in solving the math problem.

The response options from an earlier query may also affect subsequent answers. When you ask about their favorite out of four fruits and you ask the amount of fruit they eat in one week, they may focus their attention on just the four items and report a much lower number than if they were to consider a longer list of fruits.

How will you address the effects of question order when you create your poll using a survey creation tool? One feasible option is to randomize the questions in order for your respondents not to answer all the questions in a similar order. You can try question randomization which will let you know exactly just that. You can randomize the questions in order to decrease the effects of question order on your poll.

You see, more than the questions themselves, how you put the questions in order in your survey can either make or break the success of your poll. Make sure that you observe proper order of questions to get the results you need.

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