What Is A Leading Question: Definition, Examples, And Importance

Giovanni della Ventura Giovanni della Ventura · 10 min read

Using the right questions in your surveys is essential if you want to get reliable data and honest opinions from your customers.
There is no use for your company in obtaining untrue answers; in fact, it could even be counterproductive.

For this reason, you should avoid some common types of questions: double-barreled questions, loaded questions, and, of course, leading questions.

It’s pretty common to use questions that do not allow them to express their opinion as they would like, due to some communication errors you should know about.

In this article, you will discover what is a leading question, how they are structured, and why you should not use them in your surveys if you want to get honest feedback from your customers.

What is a Leading Question

What is a Leading Question?

A leading question is a question that nudges the respondent toward a particular answer.

Usually, this type of question contains hints or words that suggest what the survey creator wants to hear.

This could be a huge problem because it can subtly push a respondent toward a specific answer, quite often the one you’re hoping for.

Think of them as the steering wheel in a conversation: with the right turn, they can direct respondents down a particular path, most of the time without even realizing it.

Sometimes, these questions are assumption-based, including ideas that show you expect specific replies.

Or they can be coercive, making someone feel like there’s only one right way to answer.

This type of question forces respondents to answer in only one way, most of the time the desired answer.

The real problem is that they affect the truth and usefulness of your survey data.

If you use too many of them, you might not learn anything new or get honest feedback about your product or service.

Or, even worse, you could end up with false information since these trick questions can lead respondents to answer as you would like them to instead of their real thoughts.


If you want to avoid leading questions, the first thing you need to understand is how they are structured.

They come with distinct features that set them apart from neutral questions:

Here are the main characteristics:

  • Assumptive Nature: These questions contain information that the survey creator wants to confirm rather than seeking a true and unbiased response
  • Directive Phrasing: The way a leading question is phrased often points the respondent in the direction of the answer desired by the person asking it, suggesting the ‘correct’ response.
  • Emotional Loading: The language chosen for these questions might carry emotional weight, which can sway respondents to provide answers aligned with the implied sentiment.
  • Constrained Responses: With leading questions, alternatives may appear limited, pushing survey respondents to select among options that don’t fully represent their views or experiences.
  • Subtle Influence: Sometimes, even a single word choice or tone can steer responses. Survey designers intentionally use such subtleties for impact.
  • Strategic Positioning: Where a question falls within your survey can change how it’s perceived. A leading question might follow one that sets a frame for favorable or unfavorable feedback.


There’s not just one particular type of leading question, but we can group them into five different types.

Knowing them will help you to use them less and get better results in your surveys.

  • Assumption-based Questions: often used in surveys meant to evaluate perceptions of a product or a service, they assume a specific response from the respondent, leaving no room for expressing his true thoughts or opinions.
  • Coercive Questions: they are covertly aggressive and often use phrases that compel the respondent to agree with something, with no room for an alternative response
  • Direct-Implication Questions: designed to prompt respondents to consider the potential results of their attitudes or behaviors
  • Questions with Interconnected Statements: often used in surveys to gather specific feedback, they involve two interrelated or closely connected statements. The first one usually provides an overview that points to the actual inquiry contained in the second question.
  • Scale-based Questions: they ask respondents to express their level of agreement, usually on a scale of numbers from 1 to 10. Usually, in this main question terms are used to influence the respondent, to obtain an untruthful answer
Examples of Leading Questions

Examples of Leading Questions

As seen before, these questions can shape the responses you get, hindering you from getting honest feedback.

Here are some examples of leading questions that show you how easy it is to nudge someone toward a specific answer. 

  • ” Do you agree that our service is top-notch? ” This question suggests that the service is already considered excellent, pushing the respondent to agree.
  • ” Isn’t it true that our new product saves a lot of time? ” Here, the assumption is that the product is a time-saver, which may lead respondents to confirm rather than share their true thoughts.
  • ” You don’t like waiting on hold, do you? ” This question assumes no one likes waiting on hold and that your customer feels the same way, potentially invalidating any other feedback about hold times.
  • ” Would you also say our prices are low compared to others? ” Implying that prices are low encourages respondents to view them as such without considering their own opinion.
  • ” On a scale from 1 to 10, how much would you recommend are new exciting drink flavours to friends and family? ” By using ‘exciting’, this seeks alignment with a presumed positive attitude without allowing for an honest answer.
avoid leading questions

Why you should avoid leading questions

What is the purpose of a survey or a performance appraisal?

Getting honest opinions that allow you to get data to work with to improve your product or service.

And getting “forced” or influenced answers will only give you the opposite effect.

Your ultimate goals should be creating the proper customer survey questions and getting useful data for your company.

Leading questions can skew the authenticity of your survey results, leaving you with data that doesn’t reflect customer attitudes or behaviors.

Here are the main reasons you should avoid using this type of question if you care about your honest customer’s opinion.

Hinders unbiased responses

Asking the right questions in your surveys is crucial to get honest feedback.

And is also one of the best accountability examples you can show to your customers because you want to get their honest opinion, not the answer you’re hoping for.

If you use leading questions, you push people to answer in a certain way.

This happens because the question itself suggests what the answer should be.

Let’s say you ask, “Don’t you love our new product?” instead of finding out if they like it, your question makes them think they should agree.

Your feedback survey results won’t reveal what customers feel or think if their answers are not their true thoughts or feelings.

You need to know what all customers believe – that helps improve customer satisfaction and retain customers too!

With unbiased responses, you can trust your data and make smart decisions for your company.

Can lead to false information

Leading questions don’t only stop people from saying what they think, but they can also make them give wrong answers.

Imagine you’re using a survey to learn how customers feel about your service, and you ask, “How much would you rate our fast service?”

This question assumes something that everyone thinks that the service is fast, persuading the respondents to convince themselves that this is the case, even if they have a different opinion.

So, even if some customers find the service slow, they might say “yes” because your question pushes them in that direction.

This is a huge problem because the information isn’t reliable.

When your data is full of these yeses that don’t mean anything, it’s like building a house on sand.

It won’t stand up when you need it to make important decisions or changes.

That’s why it’s crucial to keep leading questions out of your surveys if you want truthful feedback that reflects what people think and feel.

Limits use of data

You want your data to tell you the truth about customer attitudes and behavior.

But, if you use leading questions in your surveys, you might end up with data that isn’t accurate or useful.

This is dangerous because it can make it look like everything is fine when it’s not.

At the risk of understanding from the data that there is a problem, but you need honest feedback to be able to discover the real cause.

Or even worse, it may lead you to make changes that are not helpful.

For example, imagine asking a question like “How much did you enjoy our new customer service?”

The answer has a positive subtext in favor of the company, forcing respondents to agree or disagree based on what they think you want to hear.

So, the feedback isn’t honest or helpful, because you’re guiding customers to answer your question in a predetermined way.

Instead of learning how your customers feel about your service quality, all you get is 5-star reviews that don’t mean much. 

That makes it hard for your team to find real problems and fix them, wasting money and precious time.

difference between leading and loaded questions

What’s the difference between leading and loaded questions?

The problem with leading questions is nudging people toward a specific answer.

It’s like giving someone a map with the destination already marked.

These questions are often used in surveys and can push the person answering to say what you seem to want to hear, rather than their true thoughts.

Loaded questions, on the other hand, are more like traps.

They contain an assumption right inside them.

For example, let’s say you are a travel agency and you ask “Why do you love Spain?” you’re assuming that your respondents love this country, even if they don’t

So when they answer, they have to deal with that assumption first.

Remember, we don’t have the power to be in other people’s heads.

So some things may seem obvious to us, but to other people, they are not.

We should never assume that everyone likes something in particular or does a certain action, but communicating this in our questions can be a weapon to our disadvantage.

Examples of loaded questions

Examples of loaded questions

  • “Do you find our new product more useful than the old version?” This question assumes the respondent has used both versions, which might not be true.
  • “Isn’t this software much easier to use compared to others?” Here, the question suggests that the software is easy to use without any proof from the respondent.
  • “Wouldn’t you say our customer service is friendlier than our competitors’?” The question plants the idea that their service is indeed friendlier, regardless of what the respondent thinks.
  • “Everyone loves getting more features for free; what features would you like us to add?” It assumes all users love free features and may lead them to suggest something even if they don’t think it is necessary.

How to Avoid Asking Leading Questions

Your customer’s feedback is vital.

That’s why you must ask the right questions, avoiding leading and loaded questions. Here are some practical tips to avoid doing so.

Be aware of assumptions

Assumptions can sneak into your questions without you noticing.

They might make you think the answer is obvious, even when it’s not.

If your question has an assumption, the person answering might feel pushed to agree or disagree, as we have seen in the previous examples.

This leads them away from their real feelings or thoughts about a topic.

To keep surveys fair and valuable, avoid guessing what respondents know or believe.

You want honest feedback, right?

Watch out for any hints of what you expect in your questions. 

These hints could be words that suggest there’s a right or wrong answer.

Instead of guiding respondents towards a certain response, let them share their honest opinions.

This way, you’ll get insights that help improve your business outcomes and service quality.

Avoid implied answers

You know to be careful with your words when creating survey questions. Implied answers can sneak into your questions without you even noticing.

They’re like invisible guides, nudging the respondent toward a “yes” or “no” without them even realizing it.

This can mess up everything you learn from the survey by making people agree or disagree with what you expect, not what they think.

Instead of asking “Don’t you agree our customer service is top-notch?” try something neutral like, “How would you rate our customer service?”

It doesn’t push for any particular answer and lets people offer honest feedback that helps us improve.

But above all, it’s an open question. A “yes” or “no” answer is limiting, while an open question allows your customers to argue their opinions, obtaining valuable feedback.

Keep your language straight down the middle; this way, respondents give real answers we can trust and use to make things better around here.

Use neutral language and tone

If you don’t want to influence our customers, you need to use words that don’t push them to agree or disagree.

Your goal is to get honest answers.

Keep your questions clear and open-ended and make sure they look for true feedback without any hint of what you think or want the answer to be.

For example, instead of asking “How much do you love our new website design?” try “How do you feel about our website’s new design?”This kind of wording helps people give more open and useful answers in things like customer satisfaction surveys or a website evaluation.

Consider the goal of the question

The best way to avoid leading questions is to think about what you want to know.

Sometimes our ego takes over and we forget how important it is to have a sincere opinion, rather than false compliments.

You need clear and honest answers to understand your customers’ needs.

Make sure to include in your survey questions that could make you reflect by going into detail about your products or services, to understand if there is something you can improve and what is working instead.

And if you’re using a ” yes” or “no” question, make sure to include an “other” option; many times your customers will want to explain their answer, so give them this chance.

This way, you gain insights without making the person feel like there’s a right or wrong answer.

Keep in mind that how you ask can completely change what they say.

The rule is aiming for neutrality; this helps make sure their response is valuable and reliable for improving your service.

leading question conclusion


Allowing your survey respondents to answer your questions with transparency is critical to the effectiveness of your surveys. 

For this reason, you should avoid using leading questions as much as possible, because this is not their purpose.

At this point, you know how to recognize them, why you shouldn’t use them and what are valid alternatives: neutral and open questions, which do not influence the respondents.

Remember to keep your survey questions clear and fair. 

This way, the answers you get can help your business grow.

Be careful with how you ask, so people can share their honest thoughts without any push!

Keep it straight and simple; that’s the secret to great feedback.

How did you like this blog?


Giovanni della Ventura Giovanni della Ventura

Giovanni is a maestro of time management, motivation, and accountability. With an experience of over seven years as an account manager, during the night, he transforms into an SEO consultant, one of his many passions. In this blog Giodella.com, he shares his best tips on becoming the best version of yourself based on his experience.

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