Why your post-event survey is a sham
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.