Why Survey Respondents Don’t Tell the Truth

When I was working I often received a survey to complete, by mail or phone. I never intentionally lied, but I was busy, so many answers were based on recollection, not current facts. Some answers were my opinion when they were supposed to reflect the entire corporation. In other words, surveys are not totally reliable.

That is especially true when asking individuals about matters personally affecting them or which they perceive to possibly affect them as with public policy.

Do you live paycheck to paycheck?

Do you think healthcare is affordable?

Can you afford to save?

Do you think seniors deserve a higher annual COLA?

Would you support a higher minimum wage?

Do you favor another round of stimulus checks?

The majority answers to such questions are pretty obvious are they not? As soon as the results are known the headlines appear and the political rhetoric begins. “Most Americans can’t come up with $400 in an emergency!”

I’m guessing the survey didn’t ask “What spending could you reduce to accumulate an emergency fund?” or, “Do you understand the relationship between spending, higher prices and inflation?”

5 Reasons When Respondents are Knowingly Dishonest:

1.Respondents want to appear better than they are. Whether that’s cooler, richer, more beautiful – respondents lie to build their self-worth.

2;. Respondents give socially desirable answers. Survey estimates of respondent voting are always higher than actual voter turnout. That’s because you’re supposed to vote, right? So respondents lie about whether they vote or not.

3. They don’t want to answer questions about sensitive behavior. Sex. Personal finance. Drug and alcohol use. Illegal behaviors. Respondents are always more likely to lie about sensitive topics.

4. People want to give the answer they believe will “help” or “please” the researcher. Many people just want to help you (the researcher) out. And so they make up responses based on their belief about what you need.

5. Respondents believe they can influence the outcome of the research in their favor. If you absolutely love the product concept, you may say you will buy it more frequently than you actually think you will, in hopes of getting it introduced into the marketplace.

Source: 5 Reasons Why Survey Respondents Don’t Tell the Truth | Infosurv | Infosurv


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  2. When I’m asked about something about which I hold a peculiar or idiosyncratic opinion, I lie. I’m representing the opinions of a hundred thousand or so of respondents. The truth would be misleading.


  3. Too many surveys depend on opinions of undefined terms (at least for the survey) and turn those opinions into fact.
    Do I live paycheck to paycheck? Yes, I have to wait until my next paycheck to buy groceries because I spent $200 this week on groceries. What does living paycheck to paycheck mean?
    Do I support higher minimum wage? Sure, then I might get a raise.
    Do I want free money in the form of a stimulus? Of Course. What if we have to raise your taxes by 10%? That question is never asked.
    If I don’t answer the corporate questions the way they want to hear it, I’ll be stuck in another all day training class.


    1. Dwayne – I agree 100% survey questions are skewed to get the response the survey takers are looking for. They would never ask the tax increase question. because they already know the answer. Politicians are not going to raise taxes, when they can just put new spending on the national credit card, and never have to face angry voters at the polls. Or, never have to cut any wasteful spending programs. All this government and private debt is causing problems with asset price inflation, yet credit card interest rates are at all time highs. But Americans are great at falling for all this survey crap. I no longer do any surveys or product reviews, my time is worth more to me than giving someone information that in the end may be used against my own interest.

      1.Respondents want to appear better than they are. Whether that’s cooler, richer, more beautiful – respondents lie to build their self-worth.

      So, there must be way more people living paycheck to paycheck. As they do not want to admit that they are poor money managers, lol.


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