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Avoiding Bias

Making the best decisions about financial service products can depend on effective market research. But, to get an accurate read, it’s essential to minimize the research biases that often arise. Below are a few common biases that we often see and guard against:

Self-fulfilling prophecy

Researchers, often spurred on by clients, may have a subconscious bias toward a desired outcome and ignore findings that refute that outcome. This leads to studies designed with a self-fulfilling result, known as an observer-expectancy effect.

Selection bias

This bias occurs when the research universe is not properly randomized in the selection process. It leads to findings that do not accurately represent the intended population.

Survivorship bias

An acute form of selection bias, survivorship bias is the tendency to include only subjects that are easily available because they have “survived” and exclude those that have not. For example, when looking at customer satisfaction, including only current customers may be misleading if their views are not balanced by those of former customers.

Order bias

Information we are initially exposed to often influences subsequent opinions and actions. To prevent inappropriately influencing responses, through what’s known as anchoring, researchers need to be sensitive to how survey questions are framed, in what order they are asked, and whether to vary the order from respondent to respondent.

Unpleasant experience

Negative events tend to make a deeper impression than those that are positive or neutral. As a result, respondents are more likely to assign a higher value to an unpleasant customer experience than a positive one, which can skew or overemphasize certain results.