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Uncovering The Risks Of Double-Barrelled Questions In Surveys

Hinduja MV

19 May 2023

4 min read

Surveys are widely used for getting data and ideas from a broad range of audiences. However, questions with poor design might easily ruin them. A survey question known as a “double-barrelled question” asks two or more questions in a single line, frequently leading to misunderstandings or inaccurate answers.

In this blog, we’ll go over several examples of double-barrelled questions and their effects on survey outcomes, as well as how to spot them in surveys and how to avoid using them.

What is a double-barrelled question

A survey question that combines two or more questions into one known as a double-barrelled question. The terms compound question, multiple-inquiry question, and two-in-one question are also used to describe it. Moreover, phrase the question in a variety of ways; it always covers multiple issues in one line, which makes it challenging for responders to provide accurate responses.

Consider the following double-barrelled question, for instance: “Do you believe the government should spend more on education and reduce taxes?” Combine Government expenditure on education and tax reduction that are two independent subjects in the question, and respondents are not given the chance to voice their opinions on each issue separately.

Double-barrelled inquiries have the issue of potentially confusing responders and yielding incorrect results. However, even if they agree with both sections of the question, respondents might not know which to answer, or they might feel compelled to pick between the two.

Additionally, the question can imply a connection between or equal importance between the two topics, which may not be the case. Say goodbye to biased questions and hello to unbiased insights with survey templates from SurveySparrow.

How to Identify Double-Barrelled Questions

To identify double-barrelled questions in your survey, look for questions that contain multiple ideas or concepts within a single sentence. Here are some common indicators of double-barrelled questions:

  1. The question contains conjunctions such as “and,” “or,” or “but,” which may suggest that multiple ideas are being addressed.
  2. The query asking about two or more distinct topics without giving respondents a chance to differentiate their responses.
  3. The question contains words that assume a relationship between two or more topics, such as “because,” “due to,” or “since.”
  4. Too long and complex questions makes it difficult for respondents to understand or answer accurately.
  5. The question assumes that all respondents have the same opinion on two or more topics without allowing for variation or disagreement.


Double-Barrelled Questions Example

Let’s look at an example of double-barrelled questions and how they can affect survey results:

Example: “How satisfied are you with the quality of the products and the customer service at this store?”

This question combines two distinct issues—product quality and customer service—into a single sentence. Respondents may have different opinions on each topic, but the question does not allow them to express their views separately. As a result, the responses may not accurately reflect their satisfaction with either aspect of the store.

To avoid this problem, Split the question could into two separate questions, such as “How satisfied are you with the quality of the products?” and “How satisfied are you with the customer service at this store?”

If this interests you, check out our blog  for detailed information on double-barrelled question examples.

Impact of Double-Barrelled Questions

The impact of double-barrelled questions can be particularly pronounced when dealing with sensitive or complex issues. For example, a question such as “Do you believe that the government should provide better healthcare and education?” combines two separate policy areas into a single question, making it difficult for respondents to provide a nuanced answer. They may feel strongly about one aspect of the question but not the other, or they may be unsure what the question is really asking.

Carefully considering the wording of survey questions can avoid the problems associated with double-barrelled questions and ensuring that they are clear, concise, and unambiguous.

One way to do this is to break down complex or multifaceted questions into separate, more specific questions. For example, rephrase the above question about healthcare and education as two separate questions: “Do you believe that the government should provide better healthcare?” and “Do you believe that the government should provide better education?”

Another approach is to use open-ended questions that allow respondents to provide more detailed and nuanced answers. For example, instead of asking “Do you think the food at this restaurant is both tasty and reasonably priced?”, a better question might be, “What are your thoughts on the taste and price of the food at this restaurant?”

How to Avoid Double-Barrelled Questions

The best way to avoid asking double-barrelled questions is to ask one question at a time. Break down complex questions into simpler, answer more focused inquiries that are accurate and precise. Here are some tips for avoiding double-barrelled questions in your writing:

Be clear about what you want to ask

Therefore, before you start writing your question, make sure you know exactly what you want to ask. Identify the main point or topic you want to cover, and focus your question on that topic.

Ask one question at a time

Identify the main point or topic, craft your question to focus on one aspect of that topic. Therefore, avoid asking two questions at once, even if they seem related.

Use separate questions for separate ideas

If you have multiple ideas or topics you want to cover, use separate questions for each one. As a result, respondents understand it easier and provide accurate answers.

Avoid complex language

Using complex language or jargon can make your questions more difficult to understand, leading to confusion and inaccurate responses. Keep your language simple and easy to understand.

Test your questions

Finally, before sending out your survey or questionnaire, test your questions on a small group of people to make sure they are clear and easily understandable. This will help you identify any potential problems with your questions and make changes before sending them out to a larger audience.

Need more tips? Here is an article from the University of Toronto on how to avoid double-barrelled questions.


In conclusion, double-barrelled questions can significantly affect survey outcomes by producing inaccurate data. Carefully consider the language of survey questions in order to guarantee the validity and accuracy of the results, and Avoid double-barrelled questions wherever possible.


Hinduja MV

Growth Marketer at SurveySparrow

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