The problem with neutral options

How Can We Help?

Q: Do you think that scales that allow a responder to “sit on the fence” are bad?

A: Yes. That’s why I often prefer what are called “forced-choice” questions without a neutral, opt-out choice. However, for many questions, you do want to give people an option for opting out if it is not relevant to them. For example, if they haven’t been exposed to a communication channel, it’s better to give them an option that lets them tell you they haven’t seen it rather than letting them choose a neutral option. The neutral option doesn’t give you an indication of how many chose neutral because they’re not familiar with the channel versus how many chose neutral because they consider the channel sort of average.

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