We’re excited to bring you the second video in Pew Research Center’s occasional Methods 101 series, which aims to demystify the methodology we use to conduct our research. This time around, we’re tackling why question wording is so important in public opinion surveys.

Writing clear and neutral survey questions is much more difficult than it might seem. We spend a lot of time thinking about the phrasing and ordering of our survey questions. Paying close attention to these seemingly minor factors makes a huge difference. It helps us avoid the trap of poorly worded or leading questions, which can skew survey results.

Check out the video for a quick behind-the-scenes tour of the many ways writing survey questions can go wrong, and the steps you can take to avoid these pitfalls. We hope it will be a helpful guide.


Watch our other Methods 101 videos:

How can a survey of 1,000 people tell you what the whole U.S. thinks?

What are nonprobability surveys?

Phone vs. online surveys: Why do respondents’ answers sometimes differ by mode?

How is polling done around the world?

What is machine learning, and how does it work?

Courtney Kennedy  is Vice President of Methods and Innovation at Pew Research Center.