Why your post-event sur­vey is a sham

Business Events News - - News -

IMAG­INE this: You’ve just fin­ished eat­ing at a restau­rant you’ve vis­ited for the first time. You found the food okay, noth­ing spe­cial, aver­age. Your waiter, who’s been very pleas­ant and at­ten­tive, ap­proaches your table to col­lect your plate and asks, “How was it? Did you en­joy it?” You an­swer, “Great, thank you”. Hang on, you’ve just lied and given a false im­pres­sion. Don’t worry. Just about every­one does this. But why?

Well, it’s a re­sult of psy­cho­log­i­cal bias. In­deed, per­haps two or more bi­ases are at play here that fall un­der what’s known as “De­mand Char­ac­ter­is­tics”.

Th­ese bi­ases in­clude:

Sub­ject bias, also known as

par­tic­i­pant bias, is a ten­dency of par­tic­i­pants (sub­jects) in an ex­per­i­ment to con­sciously or sub­con­sciously act in a way that they think the ex­per­i­menter or re­searcher wants them to act. It of­ten oc­curs when sub­jects re­alise or know the pur­pose of the study. For ex­am­ple, if you were ap­ply­ing for a job at an IT com­pany and the job ap­pli­ca­tion asked if you were in­no­va­tive, you would most likely an­swer yes be­cause you’d know that’s what they’re look­ing for – in­no­va­tive em­ploy­ees. In this ex­am­ple, in­no­va­tive think­ing is what’s called a de­mand char­ac­ter­is­tic – it’s what you per­ceive the re­searcher wants or de­mands.

Re­sponse bias, also known

as sur­vey bias, acts in much the same way as sub­ject bias. There is a ten­dency for peo­ple to an­swer ques­tions on a sur­vey un­truth­fully or mis­lead­ingly since they re­alise the pur­pose of the sur­vey and re­spond in a way they think the re­searcher wants.

So­cial de­sir­abil­ity bias is a form of sub­ject bias. This is where re­spon­dents of a sur­vey re­spond in a way that will por­tray them­selves in a good light. Af­ter all, we all want to look good and want oth­ers to like us.

So know­ing and un­der­stand­ing that th­ese bi­ases ex­ist and are in­grained in all of us, in my next few ar­ti­cles I’ll show you ex­am­ples of how they af­fect event sur­veys. And they af­fect them in detri­men­tal and harm­ful ways sim­ply be­cause peo­ple do not re­spond truth­fully – re­sponses to ques­tions are of­ten fake, con­trived and fic­ti­tious, mak­ing sur­vey re­sults mis­lead­ing and de­cep­tive, re­sult­ing in the whole thing be­ing a delu­sional sham. In short, sur­vey re­sults make events look much bet­ter than they ac­tu­ally are. I’ll ex­plain why it’s delu­sional, dam­ag­ing and a dan­ger to our in­dus­try. Stay tuned.

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