Are respondents people too?

Few days ago I came across a post: Respondents are people too by Rosie Greening (at SSI) and I strongly advice to read it.

A worryingly huge number of researcher (with complicity of a same number of research buyers) write questionnaire following 3 criteria:

  1.     Using words the research buyer prefer
  2.     Using concepts the research buyer prefer
  3.     Piling each research buyer’s doubt in questions

Recently I read some questionnaire that made me howl.

Case 1 – Some times ago, someone asked me to word a question “How do you rate the chiostrina“. In Italian, chiostrina is a small (about few square metres) courtyard in some buildings (example, hotels) to bring air and light to rooms that haven’t windows on the frontage. It is a technical term, probably used by architects. No average respondent knows the term.

Case 2 – “The buckle gives light to the handbag. A lot, Enough, Few, For nothing” (at least: a scale without middle point). Probably you are imagining a sparkling buckle made by diamonds (or zircons, or pailettes). No, a normal brass colored buckle. I know a lot of professional spent labor months to plan, design and realize such a wonderful buckle. Ma no one buy a bag because it receives light by the buckle. sorry.

Case 3 – A classical masterpiece of how not to do. One of the first questions asked for awareness of watch brands. A disarming long list of brands was provided. I knew seven at least: Patek Philippe, Longines, Citizen, Bombardier, Rolex, Panerai, Vacheron Constantin. I made my selection (ok, I shouldn’t answer to a questionnaire, I’m a researcher but I spied on online panels and on any else chance). For each brand began a set of 18 questions! Equal 126 questions. The questionnaire asked me if I had seen a brand’s ADV recently (splitting the channels, nor specific ADV), if I felt more self-confident (!?) with such kind of brand. No questions was provided to know if I “had” (at least in the past) one of the brand. No one was concerned about my answers were made by a real experience or a long distance awareness. I love Patek Philippe watches, it seems that Vladimir Ilic Ulianov (better known as Lenin) had one. But I never had the pleasure to wear one. I left the questionnaire at brand #3…

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