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When deciding on Likert scale values for a survey questionnaire, what is the best approach in providing neutral values? I have heard that neutral values are abused by respondents. but if you don't provide a neutral option (for example: Neither agree nor disagree) they may be forced to state an option from the available scale. is there any research data available on this or what would be the best practice when it comes to this scenario?

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  • "...neutral values are abused by respondents." Interesting framing... — Neutral, or middle-of-the-road values not only broaden the measure but are necessary to measure uncertainty, disinterest, or even poorly written statements. Nov 14, 2022 at 15:05
  • @bloodyKnuckles From my own perspective, I wouldn't be too excited about reading and carefully selecting the right option in a long questionnaire, If I could just select the neutral values, get on with it, and be on the safer side, I would rather do that. But I wouldn't know the statistical significance of that behavior.
    – Sooraj MV
    Nov 14, 2022 at 22:21

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Provide both "Neither agree nor disagree" and "Don't know" or "Not Applicable" as options.

In general, it's important to separate "I don't know" from "I don't care" because respondents who haven't had an experience with the item you want to rate would otherwise use the neutral response, which isn't an accurate reflection of their interaction.

But there are even better ways to handle this, such as using Skip Logic or being specific about which experience isn't applicable (e.g. "I do not own a car" and "I do not drive" could be more in-depth than N/A).

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