Acquiescence Bias

Acquiescence bias is the type of response error that stems from the tendency of respondents to agree with research questions or statements.

Example

Here is an example of two versions of the same question that can be impacted by acquiescence bias:

How willing would you be to buy a toothbrush that automatically dispenses toothpaste with the press of a button?

  • Very likely
  • Somewhat likely
  • Neutral
  • Somewhat unlikely
  • Very unlikely

Would you like to buy a toothbrush that automatically dispenses toothpaste with the press of a button?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe

There are two solutions that can be used to to combat this bias. One way is to change the order of the options. If the positive options are not always at the top, then order bias is limited in its ability to compound the effect of the acquiescence bias. Another way is to keep the language as neutral as possible, so respondents do not feel influenced by the language to respond a particular way.