Inaccuracy

A double-barreled question is an informal fallacy. It is committed when someone asks a question that touches upon more than one issue, yet allows for only one answer. This may result in inaccuracies in the attitudes being measured for the question, as the respondent can answer only one of the two questions, and cannot indicate which one is being answered.

Many double-barreled questions can be detected by the existence of the word “and” in them. This is not a foolproof test, as the word “and” can exist in properly constructed questions. A question asking about three items is known as triple-barreled question. In legal proceedings, double-barreled question are known as compound questions.

An example of some double-barreled questions would be the following:

“Please agree or disagree with the following statement: cars should be faster and safer.”

“Should the government spend less money on military and more on education?”

The same considerations apply to questions with fixed choice answers, as an answer can also be double-barreled. For example, if a question asks: “What motivates you to work?”, the answer “Pleasant work and nice co-workers” is double-barreled.

Some questions may not be double-barreled but confusingly similar enough to a double-barreled question to result in similar issues. For example, the question “Should the organization reduce paperwork required of employees by hiring more administrators?” can be interpreted as composed of two questions. Double-barreled questions have been asked by professionals, resulting in notable skewed media reports and research pieces.

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