A leading question is one which subtly guides the respondent to answer in a particular way. These are often questions which are worded so as to require a yes or no answer.
Leading the question (leading questions).
A company’s HR department is conducting a survey of its employees about job satisfaction and working practices. If the survey asks the question:
“Do you have any problems with your boss?”
this is a leading question as it prompts the person to question their employment relationship. In a subtle way it raises the prospect that there are problems, and increases the probability they will answer the question yes. If, however, the survey question was:
“Tell me about your relationship with your boss.”
this is not a leading question as there is less implication that there is something wrong with the employee’s relationship with their boss, and gives them the opportunity to elaborate on their answer.
In court if a witness is asked:
“How fast was the red car going when it smashed into the blue car?”
the phrasing of this question leads the witness in many ways. Firstly it implies the red car was at fault, then the use of “How fast” and “smashed” guides the witness to give an answer that may be a higher speed than was actually the case. A fairer way to phrase the question would be to ask:
“At what speed was each car going when the accident occurred?”