The primary goal of surveys is to collect information about a specific population is to leverage the data for decision-making. But what happens when the data you are collecting is false?
Professional survey cheaters are individuals or groups who deliberately provide false or misleading information in surveys to earn money or manipulate the results.
When survey data gets manipulated by cheaters, researchers draw wrong conclusions from the data. This makes it difficult for companies and organizations that use survey data to make informed decisions.
In this guide, we will explore the strategies for identifying and avoiding professional survey cheating.
Professional survey cheaters intentionally provide false or misleading information for financial or other gain. They use different methods to falsify survey results, including automated bots or scripts that complete surveys quickly, or pre-defined answers to questions.
Another thing to note about professional survey cheaters is that they’re experts; they’ve mastered the art of manipulating survey research methods for their gain. Professional survey cheaters are typically so good at it that you may not b able to spot them if you’re not looking.
Different survey cheaters do it for different reasons but the most common reasons are financial gain, gaming incentives, and sabotaging research.
Also, the most common inaccurate data professional survey give are providing preconceived answers, creating multiple accounts to get multiple incentives, and lying about their demographics so they qualify for more surveys. Some cheaters also create scripts and bots to help them answer survey questions quickly.
Survey research is a valuable tool for collecting data about people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. But professional survey cheaters make the results less reliable by giving people inaccurate or biased information.
For example, if respondents cheat by answering questions randomly or copying and pasting answers from another survey about a product and its features, the results will be biased. This can result in faulty conclusions and decisions, the product team could end up developing features their actual users don’t need or want.
Professional survey cheaters also often provide false or misleading information. For example, a respondent might claim to be a customer of a company when they are not, or they might exaggerate their level of satisfaction with a product or service.
If your data is wrong, it can cause you to make wrong decisions. For example, you might decide to mass produce a new product because it had high acceptance in the survey, but then you find out that the survey wasn’t accurate.
A significant negative impact of professional survey cheating is when organizations or people make a decision based on inaccurate survey results, it could lose money or damage its reputation.
It could also have legal consequences for the individual or organizations that used inaccurate data. For example, a pharmaceutical company can be sued by shareholders or customers who were harmed by the company’s decisions based on falsified data.
Related: How to Correct Biased Survey Results
Data analytics and statistical techniques help you to identify patterns and anomalies in the data that may suggest cheating.
For example, you can use data analytics to tell if the same respondent is answering surveys from different IP addresses. You can also use statistical methods to figure out if people are giving inconsistent answers.
In 2016, Cambridge Analytica was accused of fabricating data for a political poll in the UK, which showed a large lead for the Brexit campaign. The company allegedly used a small sample of respondents and then duplicated their responses to inflate the numbers.
The company denied the allegations, but the poll was widely criticized and disregarded by experts and the public.
In 2015, there were claims that the customer satisfaction survey on Samsung phones vs iPhones in May 2014 was wrong. The data showed that people liked Samsung phones more than iPhones, but iPhone was doing better in terms of sales, which caused professionals to question the results.
Professional survey cheaters are constantly evolving, researchers need to be aware of the different methods professionals survey cheaters use and how to mitigate them.
Survey researchers need to use a combination of methods and measures to prevent, identify, and eliminate cheating from their data. These include survey design, quality control, data analysis, and fraud prevention tools.
You also need to ensure that your surveys aren’t too long, dull, complex, or irrelevant to your target population. This can discourage genuine respondents from taking the survey and encourage cheating.
Imperium is a company that provides data integrity solutions for market research. It offers various products and services that help researchers detect and prevent fraud, such as RelevantID (a digital fingerprinting technology), Verity (a respondent validation system), and DataTrust (a data quality certification).
Formplus is a survey software that allows you to add attention and quality control checks to prevent cheating and collect valid feedback from respondents. You also get to see the data such as completion rate, response patterns, and more in real-time
Professional survey cheating is a dynamic and serious problem with significant negative consequences. Fortunately, there are several red flags and measures to help you identify and mitigate cheating in surveys.
Knowing these signs and red flags not only helps to prevent cheating; it also ensures that survey data are accurate and reliable. This will help you draw valid data-driven decisions.
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