Acquiescence Bias: A Big Reason Of Failure For Entrepreneurs

By January 14, 2022 January 20th, 2022 No Comments

Optimism is good, but excessive optimism can be dangerous.

Acquiescence bias is a tendency of human beings to answer each question without affirmatively. Giving a second thought to the questions, this specifically happens at the time of the survey.

This creates serious issues, as the respondent is not authentic, the data produced does not validate the reality. Can you imagine what would happen in the case of entrepreneurs whose life is dependent on people’s opinion and experiences?

In this article, we’re going to see what role does acquiescence bias play in the life of an entrepreneur. We will also cover ways to avoid it.

What Is Acquiescence Bias?

Acquiescence bias is a type of response bias in which participants of a survey tend to answer positively to each question without being authentic to their true selves. When response is asked in the form ‘agree/disagree,’ or ‘yes/no,’ the most probable answer would be ‘agree/yes.’ It means that regardless of the importance of the question being asked, the answer would be ‘yes’ or ‘agree’ only. This creates serious accuracy concerns in the process of market research. 

What Are The Causes Of Acquiescence Bias

There are many reasons responsible for such kind of behavior; they are as follows:

#1 Social Unacceptability

People want to be liked by everyone in society. Appreciation from individuals gives them credibility. They are afraid of the fact that they’ll be judged if answered differently.

#2 Consider Ideal Version Of Themselves

Everyone has the ideal figure of themselves in mind. It is a kind person who never speaks or even thinks of a negative answer. In order to portray an ideal version of themselves, people respond positively.

#3 Low Degree Of Education

If the respondent falls behind in degree as compared to the surveyor, they show the tendency of an inferiority complex. Respondents feel less qualified to answer, so they prefer to say ‘yes’ only.

#4 Consider Interviewer An Authoritative Figure

In this case, people from rural areas think that the surveyor is credible, authoritative, and respectable. They might feel that responding negatively might raise a question which they may not be able to answer.

How Does It Affect Entrepreneurs

Acquiescence bias can affect entrepreneurs in many ways, which can cause entrepreneurs, start-ups, and businesses huge losses. For example, inaccurate data may lead a company to lose market share because their product won’t fulfill customer expectations.

Let’s understand this with the help of an example.

Mr. John Howell wants to buy his favorite colored T-shirt from a Local BigMart shopping mall. So he goes to the mall, looking around for a t-shirt. Finally, he finds the kind of T-shirt he was looking for. But, it is not exactly the same color he wished to have. So he asks the receptionist for help to get him his favorite colored T-shirt, so they send a helper to search for his favorite colored T-shirt.

After a lot of searching and sorting, he could not find the exact colored T-shirt he was looking for. Mr. John gets a little disheartened. When he reaches the counter, he is being asked to fill a feedback form, which asks questions like ‘Did you like the service we offered ?’, ‘Would you recommend us to your friends and family ?’ with only two options “ Yes” and “No.”

Being prone to the acquiescence bias, Mr. John responds “Yes” irrespective of the fact that the service needs improvement.

In the above example, we can observe that acquiescence bias can seriously damage the quality of the product or service being provided. Because Mr. John answered affirmatively, shoppers will never realize that they need to increase the availability of many products. 

Mostly, important business decisions are made based on the data collected from the experiences and opinions of people. If it is not correct, further processing deteriorates, which results in undesired results.

Feedback is asked to assure that the service provider is able to fulfill customers’ expectations. If responded genuinely, it can benefit not only the person but also others who will be using the same service in the future. This can create sustainable environments to live a healthy life.

How To Avoid Acquiescence Bias As Entrepreneurs

Acquiescence bias can be avoided easily by following practices:

#1 Consider The Demographics Of Respondents 

Keep in mind where the respondent comes from, make them feel comfortable to answer. If the person belongs to a rural area, use easy to understand language. 

#2 Allow Them To Say “No”

Keep an open attitude, where respondents feel okay to say “no.” Encourage them to give different opinions based on genuine experience.

#3 Consider The Knowledge Of Your Audience.

Be aware of the understanding level and knowledge of the respondent. Also, ask questions that they would be able to answer without hesitation.

#4 Target Right Audience

Make sure you’re asking the right questions to the right audience. Chocolate lovers may not be able to answer “Which is the best clothing brand in the world ?”.

#5 Provide Contextual Knowledge

Some surveys like historical, political, scientific may require a surveyor to provide background information on the topic. Make sure to make it easy for respondents to answer.

#6 Convert Agree/Disagree Survey Format To Item-Specific Format

Instead of asking for responses in the ‘Agree/Disagree format, convert it into item-specific (IS) format, to avoid confusion. This is specifically useful while surveying online, e.g., online stores.

Wrap Up

Every coin has two sides. We all like to be perceived as positive individuals, but excessive optimism could be dangerous. Not everyone who responded affirmatively is expressing what he/she truly means, leading to psychological conditions like acquiescence bias.

However, it can be managed by strategically formatting questions in a way that the respondent has no choice other than to answer what is true.

Hope you find all the points mentioned regarding acquiescence bias useful; if you do, let us know in the comments below.

Kim Hvidkjaer

Kim Hvidkjaer

I’m a father, author, speaker as well as multi-disciplinary serial entrepreneur and investor. I started my first company at age 19, and have built and invested in companies in innumerable industries.

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