Types & examples of leading questions to avoid in surveys

Have you ever finished a conversation feeling like your true opinion wasn’t heard? Perhaps you were subtly steered towards a particular answer, leaving you unsure if you accurately conveyed your thoughts.


This experience might be the result of leading questions, a type of phrasing that can influence how someone responds.

This article explores what leading questions are, their types, and some sample leading question examples to help you identify them in all your future interviews, surveys, and conversations.

What are the leading questions?

Leading questions in surveys are questions that subtly influence respondents to answer in a particular way, by suggesting a desired response. They are usually added to surveys mistakenly due to poor wording or bias on the part of the survey creator.

The impact of leading survey questions on survey results and the company is significant. They can skew the data and make it unreliable for decision-making.

For example, asking, “Don’t you agree that our product is the best on the market?” could lead respondents to agree, even if they don’t truly believe it. Such a question would give the company a false sense of success and lead them to make decisions based on flawed data.

Types and examples of leading questions

A lot of leading questions stem from presumptions, connected statements, explicit suggestions, or pressure tactics. Here are some common types of leading questions.

Coercive leading questions

Coercive leading questions are like those overly enthusiastic salespeople who steer you toward a specific product. The question itself hints at what you want to hear, making it tough for the respondent to disagree.

Such questions often have two features:

  • They embed an assumption.
  • They use forceful language, using question tags like “right?” or “don’t you?” These tags pressure the respondents to agree with the embedded assumption.

Coercive questions examples

1. “You’re excited about our latest product launch, right?”

2. “You wouldn’t want to miss out on this incredible opportunity, would you?”

3. “You see the value in upgrading to our premium package, don’t you?”

4. “You understand the importance of supporting local businesses, correct?”

Leading questions survey

Direct implications leading questions

These questions nudge respondents to consider future outcomes based on a present situation, often phrased in a way that subtly suggests a specific answer.

Here’s how to identify a direct implication leading question:

  • They focus on the “aftermath.” The question centers on a consequence that hasn’t happened yet, based on an assumption about the present.
  • They use phrases like “if” or “since.” These words hint at a cause-and-effect scenario, often with a desired outcome pre-baked in.
  • They can be disguised as positive spins. A seemingly complimentary question can still be leading if it pushes a specific future action.

Direct implications leading questions examples

1. “Since you’ve had a positive experience with our product, are you likely to share it on your social media?”

2. “If you’re satisfied with our performance, could we count on your referral to other potential clients?”

3. “If you appreciate the quality of our work, could you see yourself hiring us for future projects?”

4. “Given your enjoyment of our event, do you think you’ll attend future events hosted by us?”

Assumption-based questions

Assumption-based questions make guesses about feelings. The question presumes the respondent has a specific opinion or experience, without giving them a chance to express it themselves.

They use phrases like “everyone” or “all of us.” These words imply a universal truth, even though people’s experiences can vary.

Assumption-based leading questions examples

1. “With all the buzz surrounding our new product launch, how excited are you to try it?” (This question assumes there’s existing buzz and excitement, which might not be true.)

2. “Do you agree that everyone on the team is thrilled about the upcoming changes?” (There’s an assumption that the entire team is excited.)

3. “How enjoyable was your recent shopping experience with us?” (It’s presumed the respondent found their recent shopping experience enjoyable.)

Scale-based leading questions

Scale-based leading questions use an unbalanced scale to push the respondents toward a positive response. Instead of offering a balanced scale where positive and negative options hold equal weight, such questions beef up the happy side.

Some scale-based leading questions use unnecessarily emotional terms at either end of the scale. Words like “thrilled” and “disgusted” might pressure someone to pick a more intense response than they truly feel.

Scale-based questions examples

1. “To what extent do you agree with the statement ‘This company fosters a creative work environment’? (1) Strongly Disagree, (2) Disagree, (3) Slightly Agree, (4) Agree, (5) Strongly Agree” (Forces a positive/negative agreement instead of neutral)

2. “How would you describe your recent dining experience? (A) Heavenly! (B) Very Good (C) Good (D) Disappointing (E) Awful!” (This question pushes respondents towards strong positive or negative feelings.)

Scale-based questions examples

Interlinked statement questions

Interlinked statement leading questions is like setting up a domino chain, where one statement tips over the next. It’s a sneaky tactic that combines two related statements to steer respondents toward a certain viewpoint.

They start with a statement that presents a specific viewpoint as a fact or a popular opinion. The question that follows is phrased in a way that encourages agreement with the initial statement.

Interlinked statement leading questions examples

1. “Many customers have praised our new loyalty program. How would you rate your overall satisfaction with it?” (Assumes positive feedback)

2. “We’ve implemented several new team-building activities, and morale seems to be at an all-time high! Do you have any suggestions for future activities?” (Assumes improved morale)

3. “Our latest product launch has been met with rave reviews from industry experts. What features do you find most appealing?” (Assumes positive expert reviews also mean positive user experience)

Loaded question Vs leading question

Now, let’s break down the difference between leading and loaded questions since they’re often used interchangeably, but are slightly different.

While both aim to influence responses, leading questions are more subtle and strategic. They gently guide the respondent towards a particular viewpoint.

In contrast, according to Effectiviology, loaded questions contain at least one unverified assumption or bias within the question itself. They often use emotionally charged language or exaggerations to push the respondent toward a predetermined conclusion.

Loaded questions can be perceived as confrontational or accusatory while leading questions are often perceived as suggestive.

Look at these loaded and leading question examples to understand the difference:

Loaded question: “How much longer are you going to waste your time on useless hobbies?”

Leading question: “Don’t you think it’s time to focus on more productive activities?”

The loaded question implies that your hobbies are a waste of time and puts you on the defensive. The leading question example, however, suggests that focusing on more productive activities might be beneficial and it gently nudges you to consider a change without being as confrontational.

Tips to avoid leading questions

Avoiding leading questions is essential because they can bias responses and compromise the integrity of the conversation or survey. When you steer respondents towards specific answers, you distort the accuracy of the information gathered.

This undermines the validity of research findings, hinders effective communication, and erodes trust between you and your customers.

Avoiding leading questions offers several benefits. Firstly, it promotes objectivity and fairness that ensure respondents can freely express their opinions without feeling pressured or influenced. It leads to more reliable and authentic data.

Secondly, it fosters open communication by encouraging genuine dialogue and understanding between individuals. Lastly, it upholds ethical standards by respecting the autonomy and integrity of respondents.

But exactly how to avoid leading questions? Here are some tips to help you.

  • Frame questions using neutral wording that doesn’t suggest a particular answer. Instead of leading phrases like “don’t you think,” opt for neutral alternatives such as “what do you think” or “how do you feel.”
  • Instead of presupposing information, present questions in a way that allows respondents to provide their own perspectives without influencing them.
  • If presenting multiple-choice questions, ensure that options are balanced and include both positive and negative alternatives.
  • Ensure that questions are clear, straightforward, and easy to understand.
  • Avoid using persuasive or suggestive language that may subtly guide respondents toward a desired answer.
  • Create a supportive and non-judgmental environment that encourages respondents to provide honest and genuine responses. Assure them that all viewpoints are valued and respected.

Leading Questions ❌ Balanced Approach ✅

Effective communication hinges on asking clear, unbiased questions. Understanding leading questions empowers you to create unbiased and insightful surveys and interviews.

By recognizing the various forms leading questions can take, you can ensure you gather valid and reliable data.

Formaloo, the top-rated survey software, provides a user-friendly platform to design insightful surveys free from leading questions. Formaloo offers a wealth of features to streamline your survey creation process, analyze results, and gain actionable insights.

Ready to create powerful surveys that yield unbiased results? Sign up for free Formaloo today!

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Types & examples of leading questions to avoid in surveys