Surveys for law departments and the “focusing illusion”

Social science researchers recognize that when you ask people about a feeling – “How satisfied are you with the responsiveness of the law department?” or “To what degree do you feel the law department meets your needs for professional development?” –respondents over-rate their feelings. In large measure, the respondents never give a moment’s thought to the question, and when they do focus on it, they inflate or distort their views, thus the focusing illusion.

To the extent this distortion operates, it undermines the validity of client satisfaction surveys, employee morale surveys and value questionnaires and other instruments that collect feelings and perceptions.

Granted, but as I say, “better to light a candle than curse the darkness,” and surveys at least give us directional illumination.

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