Leading

Leading questions and loaded words should be avoided. These are questions or words with meanings that invite particular responses.

'Do you think that the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (the Common Market)?' was the question posed in the 1975 referendum. To ask, 'Do you think the United Kingdom should enter the European Community?' would probably have generated differences in response. The use of the word 'stay' in the actual question invited support for the status quo, and received it._

Many words are 'loaded' in the sense that they have associative meaning beyond their strict dictionary definition, and individuals tend to respond to the associations the word has for them. The choice of word must therefore be considered from this point of view. 'Bosses', 'managers' and 'administrators' could all be descriptions of the same group of 'workers' (another loaded word). The selection of a term used to describe them is likely to affect responses to questions about the group. The problem is that almost all words are loaded in one direction or another. The aim must be to select words least likely to bias response, and also be aware of the possibility and potential direction of bias and treat the results with corresponding caution.

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