The information era has taken the notion of the “over-share” to new heights. Thanks to social networks and chat forums people are sharing more information more freely than ever before. Whilst this might be the source of much cringing for some, it also has its distinct advantages. With users more willing to divulge information over an interface than in person, online consumer surveys could yield more truthful and accurate results than their traditional counterparts.

According to top crypto company, chat forums have opened spaces for people to share some of their deepest concerns and air some of their most haunting issues. There is safety in the relative anonymity of the Internet where users can speak freely, knowing that even when their peers judge them or they are reproached, it is unlikely to be of any consequence to their real lives.

This effect has been particularly evident in the field of health. Patients are traditionally very selective about the information they disclose to their GPs. This is especially true for sexual health concerns. Medical forums now offer an opportunity for the painfully shy to come right out and ask about that itch, tingle or other bother. And there is solidarity to be found in a collective airing of dirty laundry. People who might usually feel like an absolute unfortunate and isolated minority are now reaching out to others through a web that spans the planet. This has seen the rise of powerful action groups and even on some levels, reform.

A recently piloted online GP consultation system is attempting to capitalise on this transparency. Patients are encouraged to provide information online, which is then assessed by a doctor. If the concern is serious they will be called in for an examination. The thought is that patients are more likely to be open about their health this way, sharing information that may have normally been overlooked.

Researchers have long-since known that when respondents are aware they are being studied they tend to behave slightly differently. This is called observer bias and considerable resources have been invested in findings ways of minimising this effect. The epitome for any scientist is to be able to study a behaviour in its most natural and undisturbed state.

Technology has already offered some options for getting closer to this ideal. Often study participants are now given tablets or other electronic devices with preloaded questionnaires, allowing them to complete the survey entirely anonymously. In this way online surveys are making headway in the world of research and surveys. But they would still have to come to a study site or be tracked-down by a researcher to get hold of the device. Even the less invasive email or browser-based questionnaires usually still require participants to make a concerted effort to sit down in front of a computer.

Cell phone-based online survey tools have taken this up a level. By sending questionnaires straight to respondents’ phones, disruption truly is minimal. We already check our phones regularly and fiddle with them on public transport, during breaks or in front of the television. Quickly answering a few questions at that point is reasonably undemanding and participants are far less likely to feel like they are the subjects of a study or being actively observed. By eliciting more honest responses, cell phone surveys are likely to produce less skewed results, making further inroads in the pursuit of research findings less plagued by observer bias.

Author's Bio: 

Narendra Sharma is a Freelancer Writer, Entrepreneur and passionate blogger. A writer by day and a reader by night.