If you’ve ever been in a situation where a question left you feeling boxed into a corner, then that must have been a leading question. Leading questions are common and at one point in time or other, you’d have to deal with them – whether in a survey or while requesting feedback from clients.
Just as the name suggests, the goal of a leading question is to lead or nudge respondents towards premeditated responses. As a business or organization, it is important to know when to use leading questions and how to create the right types of leading questions.
What is a Leading Question?
A leading question is a type of question that prompts a respondent towards providing an already-determined answer. This type of question is suggestive as it is framed in such a way that it implies or points to its answer(s).
A leading question typically leans towards established biases and assumptions and it is made up of specific information which the individual or organization (interrogator) wishes to confirm. In law, this type of question is commonly referred to as suggestive interrogation.
Many times, leading questions are used by organizations to persuade clients to make a particular decision. For example, if you wanted clients to sign up for an insurance plan, you could craft a leading question like: “When would you like to sign up for our insurance plan?”
The aforementioned question subtly prompts the client to decide on the insurance plan, which would most likely be in your favor. Hence, it is more effective than asking clients if they would be interested in signing up for your organization’s insurance plan.
Types of Leading Questions
Leading questions are categorized based on their inherent intent, objective, and framing. Here are some common types of leading questions:
Leading Questions that are Based on Assumptions
An assumption-based leading question is one that communicates a preconceived notion and is framed as such. In other words, the entire question stems from the assumption of the interrogator, with regards to the actions or perception of the client.
Assumption-based leading questions are commonly employed in feedback surveys where the survey creator intends to evaluate a respondent’s perception of a product, service, or process. The objective of this type of leading question is to test assumptions.
For instance, when collecting feedback from clients on a product or service you can include an assumption-based leading question like: “How much did you enjoy using our product?” This question presupposes that the client must have enjoyed using the product and only inquires to the degree of enjoyment.
Here are other examples of leading questions that are based on assumptions:
- How well did our services meet your needs?
- How satisfied are you with our product?
- How exciting has this event been for you?
Leading Questions Based on Interconnected Statements
Just as the name suggests, this type of leading question is one that encompasses two interrelated or closely connected statements. With interconnected leading questions, the first statement typically provides some sort of overview that points to the actual inquiry contained in the succeeding statement.
Leading questions with interconnected statements are often used in employee feedback surveys aimed at gathering useful information for workplace policy revision. With this type of question, organizations can measure how employees feel about regulations and responsibilities in the workplace.
Here are examples of leading questions with interconnected statements:
- Many employees enjoy working overtime. What do you think about this?
- Usually, employees view bonuses as a valid form of motivation. How do you feel about this?
- Many employees hate commuting to work every day. What are your thoughts on this?
Direct Implications Leading Questions
Leading questions with direct implications are the type of questions aimed at centering respondents to the possibility of a future occurrence of an event. In other words, direct implications leading questions allow respondents to consider the results of their possible perceptions or decisions.
These types of questions are typically used in event feedback surveys. Apart from prompting respondents to make a decision, direct implications leading questions also make respondents feel like an important part of an organization’s decision-making process.
Examples of Direct Implication Leading Questions
- If you enjoyed this movie, would you recommend it to other viewers?
- If you liked this meal, would you be visiting again soon?
- If you enjoyed this event, should we host another edition?
Coercive Leading Questions
A coercive leading question is a type of question that forces respondents to provide a specific answer; usually in the affirmative. Unlike other types of leading questions that can be subtle, coercive leading questions are framed in an extremely forceful manner.
This type of leading question can be included in customer surveys and website evaluation surveys; although it communicates huge biases that may blur the actual perception of the respondent. Coercive leading questions are sometimes referred to as leading questions with tags due to their structure.
Examples of coercive leading questions include:
- You enjoyed our services, didn’t you?
- You enjoyed interacting with our services, didn’t you?
- Our product satisfactorily met your needs, didn’t it?
Examples of Leading Question in Law, Sales, Marketing and Surveys
During cross-examination, attorneys typically make use of leading questions to nudge the witnesses to predetermined responses. Leading questions can also be used by an attorney to create perceptions by not allowing a witness to qualify their answer. Thus, by limiting a witness to specific responses, an attorney can leave certain perceptions in the mind of the jury, in his or her favor.
Leading questions in law may take the form of suggestive insinuations which subtly plants an answer in the mind of the respondent or it can be framed to include too many variables. Sometimes, an attorney can intentionally merge independent information to suggest a preconceived conclusion.
Examples of leading questions in Law include:
- How fast did the defendant appear to be driving?
- You traveled to New York on the 15th of January, 2019, didn’t you?
- Did you see Mirabel at 3 pm on the 12th of August, 2007?
In sales, leading questions are used to convince a prospective client to purchase a product or subscribe for a service. Typically, it helps the salesperson to obtain meaningful information from the prospective client which helps him or her to determine if the product is right for the client in question.
Leading questions allow the salesperson to guide the client towards making the right purchasing decision in his or her favor. When crafting sales leading questions, it is important for you not to come off as desperate, and you can achieve this by emphasizing the value of the product.
Leading questions in sales should be crafted in a way that they help the prospective buyer to see how the product meets his or her needs.
Examples of Leading Questions in Sales:
- What type of furniture would you mind having in your new home?
- Having a solid insurance plan is important, don’t you think so?
- When would you like to subscribe to our premium software package?
- How soon would you want your furniture to be delivered?
Digital marketers leverage leading questions to get leads to subscribe to or sign up for a service and in many instances, these questions can appear as web pop-ups. In a general sense, leading questions in marketing aim to guide the consumer towards an affirmative response to a product or service.
Examples of Leading Questions in Marketing
- You would like to download our free e-book, wouldn’t you?
- Would you like to lose tummy fat in 3 days?
Leading questions are used in different types of surveys including customer feedback surveys and event surveys. When a leading question is listed in a survey, it can largely alter the final results of the evaluation due to survey biases.
Examples of Leading Questions in Survey
- Did you enjoy our excellent service delivery?
- How much did you enjoy our customer experience?
- Our website has an excellent user interface, doesn’t it?
Advantages of Leading Questions
Leading questions are time-efficient. Because they aim to achieve predetermined responses, including leading questions in your survey or marketing process helps you to save time and makes your data-gathering process more efficient.
Leading questions exclude unnecessary conversations in data-collection as you can tailor these questions to suit the immediate objectives of your data-gathering process. Hence, it makes it easier for you to gather relevant data in little or no time.
Leading questions help you to identify and focus on a definite direction for your research. This way, you can avoid all unnecessary information and pay attention to retrieving important research data.
Leading questions are specific and they help you to avoid generalized, vague, and ambiguous questioning. Leading questions are typically in sync with the primary objective of your data-gathering process.
When framing leading questions, the researcher needs to have a goal and then ask questions in a specific manner to lead the respondent into that definite direction.
In marketing and sales, leading questions serve as a powerful tool for persuasion.
Disadvantages of a Leading Question
Leading questions infuse a lot of bias in research because they are aimed at achieving predetermined results. The questions are framed in such a manner that they evade neutrality and cajole the respondent into providing an answer that may not be entirely true.
- Leading questions result in highly-subjective responses that ultimately affect the quality of data gathered. Many times, these answers do not provide a true reflection of the perceptions of the respondents.
- Leading questions do not provide new insights or information in research. Simply put, the responses to leading questions are often a regurgitation of the biases communicated via the questions, and this makes it impossible for one to gather any new information.
- Leading questions can negatively alter the behaviors of respondents.
- Leading questions also provide false feedback. False feedback is very unhealthy for any organization because it creates an untrue impression of the market’s perception of a product or service. This can negatively impact product improvement.
How to Answer a Leading Question
More often than not, you would encounter leading questions and you would need to respond to them accordingly. It may be when filling out a survey, providing feedback after attending an event, or undergoing cross-examination in the court of law.
Whichever one it is, there are a few steps you can take to help you assert your opinion fully and limit the effect of the inherent biases on your responses.
The first thing you need to do is to recognize that you’re being faced with a leading question. The easiest way to identify a leading question is to notice the biases that it presupposes.
After doing this, you can choose to respond in one of these ways:
- Clearly reject the bias. For instance, when asked: “How much did you enjoy this event?” — you can say, “I did not enjoy the event”.
- Abandon the feedback or survey.
- Call the attention of the survey creator to the bias, if possible.
How to Create Online Questionnaires
An online questionnaire is an easy way for you to gather information or feedback on your product or service from clients and customers. With Formplus, you can create an online questionnaire and collect tons of data from numerous respondents, conveniently.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create an online questionnaire with Formplus:
- Sign in to your Formplus account. If you do not have a Formplus account, sign up for one here.
- Once you access your Formplus account, click on the “create form” tab to start creating your online questionnaire from scratch. Alternatively, you can edit the Formplus online questionnaire template to suit your needs.
- Edit Form Title: Click on the field provided to input your form title, for example, “Online Questionnaire”.
- Edit the questionnaire by dragging and dropping fields from the builder’s inputs section into your form. You can also modify form fields. Save all changes to move to the customization section of the form builder.
- In the form customization section, you can change the overall outlook of your questionnaire. Here, you can add your organization’s logo to the questionnaire, add preferred background images, and also tweak the form’s layout.
- Multiple Sharing Options: Formplus offers multiple form sharing options that enable you to easily share your questionnaire with respondents. You can use the direct social media sharing buttons to share your form link to your organization’s social media pages.
You can also share your questionnaire via email invitations. Your online questionnaire has a QR code that you can download, print, and share with form respondents too or embed it on your organization’s website for easy access.
Before including leading questions in your survey or questionnaire, it is important for you to clearly outline the aims and objectives of the data collection process. If you want respondents to gain insights into the perceptions and behaviors of your customers, then you would need to avoid leading questions of any type.
However, if you simply want to confirm certain assumptions about clients’ perceptions, then leading questions are your best bet. The hack to leading questions is knowing when and how to use them to arrive at the most appropriate responses.