What Is A Double-Barreled Question? (Top Reasons To Avoid)

Double-Barreled Questions

Ambiguity in any business process can wreak havoc on sales and its future.

Conducting customer or employee surveys is a crucial business process that happens to be quite time and effort-intensive.

But what if all the effort you put into creating survey questions goes to waste? Well, this is quite a possibility, especially if you are into writing double-barreled questions.

In this extensive guide, we will help you learn about double-barreled questions from inside and out.

We will understand what makes a question double-barreled, how to identify double-barreled question, why should you avoid them at all costs, examples of potential double-barreled questions, and how you can avoid writing such questions!

So let’s cut to the chase and dive right in, shall we?

Table of contents
What are double-barreled questions?
Why double-barreled questions should not be used?
How to avoid writing double-barreled questions?
Examples of double-barreled questions
How to write better survey questions?

What are double-barreled questions?

What is the #1 enemy of all customer, employee, or competition research? It’s nothing but “ambiguity”.

You just cannot rely on research that has an undefined foundation. You have got to ask yourself this question — “Are the questions asked in a survey clear enough for the respondents to understand?”

The person sitting on the other side of the survey should understand exactly what you are asking and what kind of responses should be delivered. To be precise, all survey questions should be clear and concise.

A double-barreled question is exactly the opposite of what we stated above. Double-barreled questions do an excellent job of confusing the respondents as these may ask them about more than one topic per question!

The answers to these questions get so skewed, that even the survey creators fail to decipher them.

A double-barreled question or double-direct question or compound question is essentially a question that consists of more than one topic or issue but allows customers to provide a single answer.

For example, a double-barreled question might sound like, “How much did you enjoy browsing through the products and purchasing them?”

Well, browsing the website to search for products is one part of the process while adding them to the cart or purchasing them is another.

Now, the respondent has no clue about which part of the process they should answer about. This leads to major discrepancies and ambiguities in the survey result.

Therefore, it is important that you avoid asking a double-barreled question.

double-barreled question, survey respondents, leading questions

Why double-barreled questions should not be used?

Well, the very definition of a double-barreled question might have given you the idea of why we don’t recommend asking them in the first place.

See, the only problem with asking a double-barreled question is that they lead to massive confusion in the minds of the customers — something that can be extremely dangerous for your business processes.

The confused respondents will only submit confused responses since they don’t know which of the two questions they should answer. The “confusion train” doesn’t stop there!

As a business owner, you will have a hard time analyzing the responses since you have no idea which questions the respondent submitted an answer against!

In other words, you just don’t know what you are measuring. Quite a bad place to be, isn’t it? There are times when survey creators intentionally write a double-barreled question to make the survey shorter. Great intention, definitely.

But, the survey will not return accurate survey results. The entire process will turn out to be an exercise in futility.

Moreover, if you don’t realize the absurdity of asking double-barreled questions in a survey, you might start jumping to conclusions and make bad business decisions.

Therefore, we want you to avoid writing double-barreled questions altogether.

double-ended question, leading questions, compound question

How to avoid writing double-barreled questions?

Can you avoid writing double-direct questions? Of course, you can.

While double-barreled questions are the most common mistake survey creators make in their research, one can easily avoid asking them.

Here are some of the ways you can avoid double-barreled questions altogether.

1. Split them up to get accurate survey results!

It’s better to not confuse the respondents by asking two questions in a single question. We highly recommend you split up the survey question.

Ask separate questions to make the survey more straightforward. This will help in two ways — first, it will not confuse the respondents, and second, it will help generate accurate results.

2. Align questions to your goals to get particular answer

Before you write survey questions, we suggest you figure out the goals behind sending the survey in the first place. What is it that you want to achieve through the survey?

Once you have the goals, it’s time to align the question accordingly. This simple tactic will massively reduce the chances of writing double-barreled questions.

3. Proofread the questions before hitting send!

You cannot go wrong with this. Bring in more people to the team to proofread the questions and figure out the level of ambiguity in the survey.

Re-read the questions in order to realize the opportunities for simplifying the survey and making the questions clear for respondents. Ask people to gut-check the survey!

4. Run the survey questions through a small sample

This is very important! Always run a trial before you hit send and make the survey live. Shortlist a few people from the sample and send the survey to them.

Collect and analyze the results to ensure the survey makes sense. Once you are sure about the results, send the survey to your full sample.

avoiding double-barreled questions, accurate results, survey respondents

Examples of double-barreled questions

Now that you understand how double-barreled or compound questions make a survey ambiguous, it’s time we go through some of the examples of such questions. Here are some of the most common examples of double-barreled questions.

  1. How would you rate the features and service of our software solution and customer support?
  2. How would you rate the present remote work scenario and the relationship with your manager?
  3. How frequently do you visit our gym and how many times do you purchase our dietary supplement?
  4. How would you rate our product with respect to pricing and overall usability?

How to write better survey questions?

We have talked about double-barreled questions extensively. But there are several other common survey question errors that you should completely avoid. Let’s discuss them briefly before concluding the guide.

1. Confusing questions

Survey creators that intentionally try to confuse respondents use confusing questions to mislead them. The questions are essentially written in an illogical way and are phrased in a confusing manner.

Such questions often leave the respondents guessing and the answers submitted are likely to be unusable. For example, “How good was the customer support representative or your issue was not resolved?”

2. Negative questions

This survey question error is a classic. Negative questions might make the respondents leave “no” for an answer, which refers to a positive answer!

In the same way, a “yes” in a particular answer will indicate a negative response. Confusion everywhere. Avoid asking negative questions at all costs.

3. Absolute questions

Absolute questions try to corner the respondents into giving a definite answer. This is because such questions tend to make respondents choose from extremities or give a single answer.

We highly recommend survey creators not push the respondents towards extreme variables. Absolute questions are usually the yes or no type of survey questions.

4. Ambiguous questions

Survey questions that lack clarity are ambiguous questions. In this, there’s absolutely no clarity about the topic of the survey. The range of topics covered by the questions might be too broad.

Survey creators that send such questions make it difficult for respondents since the questions can have different meanings for different customers.

We suggest you not use ambiguous questions as the responses to these questions are not accurate and cannot be analyzed properly.

5. Assumptive questions

As a survey creator, you are making a mistake if you tend to assume the respondents’ level of knowledge or expertise.

Asking assumptive questions will only lead respondents to answer without authority. Such answers are simply not useful for making sound business decisions.

Indeed, you can use assumptive questions in certain conditions, like when you are surveying industry experts or research scholars. But, you should avoid using them in general.

6. Leading question

Such are the questions that survey creators use to push respondents in a certain direction, often to make the respondents leave a positive response.

A leading question might leave you with responses that wrongly confirm your bias. For example, “Did you enjoy shopping on our official business website?”

Final thoughts!

There’s absolutely no point in conducting surveys if you can’t back them up with quality survey questions. The questions must be drafted in a way that makes clear sense to the customer.

The respondents should be clear about what’s being asked. This will help them come up with better and more insightful answers that will only help you develop better customer experience strategies.

Asking double-barreled questions does not serve this purpose and hence should be avoided at all times.

However, if you intend to ask double-barreled questions anyway, make sure the survey question inclines towards measuring only one aspect of the customer experience.

Did you find this extensive guide on double-barreled questions helpful? Let us know! Also, don’t forget to check out other informative posts on the blog!

🚀 Collect feedback with JustFeedback customer experience survey tools Start For Free