condition iconUsing “Show” logic versus “Hide” logic

You know that based on how a respondent answers, you can choose to either “hide”, or “show” something in your survey. This could be for example an entire page, or one or more questions.

There is not that much of rational difference between show and hide logics. They just react opposite to each other, but you can practically make a logic flow with the exact same result, both by using show or hide logic. For example, imagine that you want to ask a certain question from those participants who actually have pets. Therefore you start with this questions:

Do you have pets?
  • Yes
  • No
How many pets do you have?
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • More than 5
The example above shows two questions, and the second one must be displayed only if respondents answer “yes” for the first questions.

And now you have two ways to set up your logic flow:

  • If they answer “No”, “hide” next question.
  • If they answer “Yes”, “show” next question.

These two flows would generate the exact same results. But it’s better to use the “show” flow, you ask why? Because of two reasons:

1: It’s more brain-friendly for you

It’s easier for our brain to think positively like this: “hmmm…. under which conditions do I want this question to be displayed?” rather than negatively like this: “hmmm…. Under which conditions do I want this questions not to be displayed?”

Well, this one was a simple Yes/No question, and a pretty straight forward flow. So one may not feel that much of a difference. But trust us! It’s easier to use the “show” logic, for more complicated flows (which may contain more complicated questions and a combination of logic rules).

1: It’s more brain-friendly for them

The second reason why “show” is prefered has to do with how the respondents’ brain work. You can potentially create something called “cognitive load” for respondents, by suddenly hiding something from the view.

Imagine in the previous example, you have both of the questions visible at the same time. This means you have chosen the “hide” logic to remove the second questions, if the respondent answers “No”.

Now put yourself in their shoes…. You click a choice (in this case “No”), and all of a sudden something disappears from the screen. This may create some kind of uncertainty for you and perhaps create lots of unnecessary questions in your head.

For instance a respondent might not be aware that their response made the next question to disappear. They may wonder what did just happened? Is the survey buggy? There was something here just a moment ago and now it’s gone. Did I do something wrong?

Or they may understand that their response caused the next question to disappear, and therefore start wondering what was that question about which just disappeared? Oh let me change my answer and see if I can get the question back and read it again. Maybe I could answer in a better way. Maybe…. Perhaps….

You see? You can easily confuse people and change their focus. So instead of making them concentrate on the questions, you create questions and make them distracted. This negative effect is more powerful in case of “hide” logic; but it may also happen when you use “show” logic. Therefore, we recommend you read the following tips.


NEXT: Place “shown” or “hidden” items far away