Biases are everywhere. We all unconsciously tend to see the world through our unique viewpoints. While this is natural, in the field of market research, bias can have consequences for researchers and consumers alike. Let’s look at what market research bias is and how to avoid a few particular biases.
What is market research bias?
In market research, bias is any factor that skews a research project’s results. Bias can happen from a missed step in the research process or improper feedback techniques. Researchers must do everything they can to steer clear of this, so others can trust their findings.
When accuracy matters in your research, avoiding bias is paramount.
5 Types of market research bias
While there are various kinds of market research bias to consider, let’s review six common types.
1. Social desirability bias
This bias results from participants answering questions in a way that presents them in the best light possible. Many research projects involve questioning participants, which are all susceptible to this bias. For example, if you ask participants questions about personal or sensitive topics, they may be more likely to be unintentionally dishonest.
Unconditional positive regard is one way to avoid this bias. To display this quality to your participants, you might phrase questions in a way that makes people feel that nobody will judge their answer. For example, frame sensitive topics in the third person, so participants don’t feel as if they are directly commenting on their lives. This approach will make participants more comfortable being honest with you.
Habituation bias involves participants giving you the same answer to similarly worded questions. Paying particular attention to every question can be challenging, especially during a long survey. That’s why it’s essential to vary your questions’ wording and sentence structure. If your questions are redundant, you might notice your participants getting fatigued or bored. Keeping questions conversational is the secret to avoiding this bias.
3. Sponsorship bias
When a study is being funded by a group or publication with special interests researchers should be careful to avoid sponsorship bias. Sponsorship bias occurs when the results of a study are skewed to support the interests of the group funding the research project. Researchers must always remember to stay neutral, regardless of the subject matter of the study.
4. Confirmation bias
Confirmation bias occurs when a researcher uses a participant’s information to confirm a belief about their research hypothesis. For instance, a surveyor may interpret a participant’s response in a way that makes their idea seem more relevant while ignoring parts of the participant’s answers that don’t support their prediction.
5. Culture bias
Researchers create cultural bias when their research makes assumptions viewed through a cultural lens. Typically going hand in hand with this bias is ethnocentrism, which is using your culture’s standards to judge another.
How to eliminate bias in market research
How can market research prevent bias in studies and surveys? It all starts with educating yourself on the different types and how to avoid them. Asking good questions and knowing what biases might naturally occur concerning your research may also help you avoid them. It’s imperative to keep an eye on whether you’re getting honest participant perspectives, so your research has high standards for quality.
You can minimize bias in qualitative research and get high-quality results if you know how to spot bias and eliminate it. By asking thoughtful questions at the right time and being aware of possible sources of bias, researchers can draw more truthful responses from participants. Here are some strategies for reducing specific types of bias.
- Confirmation bias: If your data looks as you predicted it would, confirmation bias may have played a role in the results. Having a moderator involved in your research may help your data interpretations become more rooted in objectivity and less in your opinions. Also, asking participants to elaborate when they use vague terminology can prevent you from making assumptions.
- Culture bias: One way to avoid cultural bias is to involve a partner in your research who can bridge any cultural divides between you and your participants.
- Social desirability bias: This bias typically occurs in focus groups. Anonymous online market research can eliminate this bias because participants will feel less inhibited to answer questions with full honesty, even if doing so reveals their negative qualities.
- Habituation bias: Make sure your questions are conversational and not repetitive.
- Sponsorship bias: All researchers who interact with participants should remain neutral with the questions they ask, ensuring that their questions will present the most accurate, unskewed results.
Contact Cint today for market research solutions
Understanding bias is essential for creating effective surveys that will serve your goals. You can better spot bias in your research projects, giving you access to more reliable data for your teams.
Contact Cint today to request a demo of our tools and work toward conducting more efficient online research.