What are Threatening Questions?

Threatening questions refer to behaviours that are illegal or contra-normative or behaviours that are socially deviant and are not discussed in public. For example, questions that inquires about the respondent’s gambling habits, about their drinking habits, child abuse or sexual behaviours are referred as threatening questions. Often it is necessary to include such questions in studies, which the respondent may find embarrassing and thus difficult to answer.

Though it is suggested to avoid threatening questions as far as possible, in cases where it is necessary to include such questions it is advised to use a long introduction to the question (or may be indirect question) rather than asking short questions (or direct questions); by an open-ended rather than a closed-ended format: and, to a lesser extent, by letting the respondents pick their own words to talk about the sensitive issues.

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