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What are some mistakes to avoid as a poll taker?

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Quick Answer

Some of the most common mistakes made by poll takers include writing ambiguous or confusing questions, failing to recruit respondents from multiple demographics, instilling bias with questions and asking complex questions. To ensure accurate results, poll takers must refine their questions and take every precaution to eliminate bias.

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Full Answer

Ambiguous questions require respondents to make assumptions. For example, a poll taker might ask, "How many days did you take off from work last year?" The respondent doesn't know whether to include universal holidays granted to all employees, requested vacation days or both.

Poll takers must also target respondents across all demographics, including different age ranges, genders, races, income levels, religions, political affiliations and geographical locations. Some polls target specific demographics, but care must be taken to include variety among other demographics.

If poll questions introduce bias in their wording, the results will be skewed. For example, poll takers should avoid questions like, "Most Americans are frustrated by Republican politicians. On a scale of 1-10, how frustrated are you with Republicans?" The respondents will automatically perceive the question in a negative light.

Simplicity is essential to crafting an effective poll. Writers should avoid asking for multiple responses to the same question, such as, "How would you rate our speed of delivery and customer service?" This question forces the respondent to give the same answer for both variables, and the response might be inaccurate if the respondent is not allowed to value each separately.

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