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# How do I identify possible sources of bias in questionnaires?

By Kris Boulton on the 11th of June, 2012

## Identify possible sources of bias in the design and use of data collection sheets &amp; questionnaires

Let’s say someone is hired to find out how often people go to the cinema. They design a questionnaire for people to complete. Then, they go and stand outside a cinema, and ask people as they leave how often they go to the cinema. The person looks at the responses at the end of the day, and finds that everyone goes to the cinema really often. They return to their employer, and report that everyone in the country is going to the cinema practically all the time!

In reality, there will be lots of people in the country, or even in a single town, who just don’t go to the cinema at all. There will be yet more people who go very rarely. But if you stand outside a cinema asking people how often they go, it’s likely that you’re going to be only asking the kind of people who are regular cinema goers, and you’ll miss out all the people who never go. When this happens, we call it bias.

The idea of bias will also be covered in your history lessons, and possibly in your English lessons.

For your exam, you’ll be expected to be able to identify biased surveys and questionnaires.

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