Difference Between Poll and Survey

There are several methods of data collection in research. Research plays and important roll in market and academia. There are different types of data processing systems, for various types of data.

Dependeding upon the nature of the data (quantitative or qualitative), sample size and other factors, the method of data collection can be picked.

Amidst the various categories of data collection, polls and surveys are the most frequently used methods in market research. They offer easy analysis and operation options.

Poll vs Survey

The main difference between poll and survey is that a poll is one single multiple-choice question, while a survey includes multiple questions that can be both objective and subjective.

Poll vs Survey


Comparison Table Between Poll and Survey (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonPollSurvey
QuestionsConsist of a single question, usually a multiple-choice questionSurveys have multiple questions that are usually a combination of both subjective and objective questions.
TimeSince it’s just one question it usually does not take much timeTime taken by respondents to fill up a survey may vary depending upon the number of question. They are usually more elaborate.
InformationRespondents are rarely asked to give out their personal details.Surveys often require details of the respondents to know more about the data that has been collected.
PurposeTo get an overview of what people take away from an event or an experience.To understand in-depth about things such as customer satisfaction, feedback etc.
Type of decisionPolls are usually simple, unidimensional decisionsSurveys require feedback on multiple dimensions.


What is Poll?

A poll is a question asked from s set sample size to know about people’s preferred options.

The questions asked in a poll can be both multiple-choice or open-ended. It is a system to know and understand people’s choices.

The methodology of conducting polls has evolved significantly over time. Initially, poles were conducted in person, where people were asked questions and responses were recorded on the show of hands.

Later telephonic polls and polls via SMS became very commonly.

In the current times, however, polls are usually done online. Respondents can submit their answers by a single click. Online polls allow the poll designer to design the poll as per their requirements.

Polls are extensively used by companies to understand what their customers want. A company that knows the likes and dislike of its customers can surely do better.

Since a poll is just one question, it can provide a limited insight which is why polls must be used judiciously.

Polls usually have a very big sample size. It gives a relative overview of the choices of the population in question.

Since the outcome data of polls is not elaborate, the processing and analysis that can be done through this data are also limited.

A very common form of Poll is the election poll. Such polls are used to understand which political party or candidate is more popular or is likely to win in the elections.


What is Survey?

Survey method of data collection is done with the intention of generalizing the results over a relatively bigger population.

Data collected using the survey method is critical in both business and academic research.

It is a more elaborate form of data collection, as it provided detailed insights and information. A survey usually has more that one question, that can be both subjective or objective.

Surveys can be divided into four categories depending upon the methodology adopted. They can be face to face, telephonic, self-administered or online.

This method has been recognised as an ideal method for in-depth data collection.

Online surveys have made pen and paper surveys obsolete since the cost of administering an online survey is way less.

The key rule while using a survey is to design it in the right way. A survey must ask the right questions in the right format. One must ensure that redundancy is eliminated.

Additionally, a survey must be distributed through the right channels to ensure that the right kind of responses are recorded.

Surveys are very extensively used to collect feedback from customers about events and products.

Since surveys are often longer, it is difficult to convince customers to fill out such forms. It is important to design a relatively short survey. Some companies offer incentives for filling out survey forms.


Main Differences Between Poll and Survey

  1. A poll is a question circulated to understand peoples relative preferences while a survey is an elaborate method of data collection with multiple questions.
  2. Naturally, the time taken up to fill out a poll is way less than a survey.
  3. Polls record responses however personal information of the respondent is rarely required. Whereas surveys often require personal information of the respondent.
  4. The focus of a poll is to understand the relative preference of the sample, while a survey focuses on multiple dimensions.
  5. Responses to a poll are usually based on simple and quick decisions, while a survey requires in-depth analysis.
Difference Between Poll and Survey



Data collection is an important element of research. Organic data helps organisations especially companies in making profitable changes.

There are several methods of data collections that can be used, depending upon sample size and nature of data. Digital methods of data collection have significantly reduced the cost of the process.

Poll and survey method collect data from sample size and generalize it over a relatively larger population.

The main difference between a poll and a survey is that a poll includes a single question while a survey includes multiple questions.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2747357
  2. https://academic.oup.com/alcalc/article-abstract/39/6/532/211277
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