New Thinking

Response Bias

We must overcome response bias to uncover real truths

Market and social researchers have always recognised that respondents often do not display complete openness and honesty in the information they provide in both qualitative and quantitative investigations.

Often referred to as response bias, this process results from a range of pressures on respondents, including the influence of political correctness, the desire to impress, the need to cover up potentially embarrassing views or behaviour, the tendency to conform and the desire to 'perform well' in the research process itself. Collectively, these drivers of response bias can make the researchers' task extremely difficult and can at times result in some very inaccurate findings being reported back to clients.

Practitioners use a range of techniques to overcome response bias, with varying degrees of success. Woolcott Research now has a suite of 'response latency' techniques which were developed within the academic world some years ago and which offer a real solution. These techniques are computer based, they are indirect (ie they do not require the respondent to confront the topic directly) and they rely on an analysis of response speeds to arrive at their determination. The application of this kind of approach in research can effectively eliminate the impact of response bias completely