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Middle alternatives revisited: how the neither/nor response acts as a ‘face-saving’ way of saying ‘I don’t know’

Sturgis, Patrick, Roberts, Caroline and Smith, Patten (2010) Middle alternatives revisited: how the neither/nor response acts as a ‘face-saving’ way of saying ‘I don’t know’ , Southampton, GB Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute 25pp. (S3RI Methodology Working Papers, M10/01).

Record type: Monograph (Working Paper)


In this paper, we use follow-up probes administered to respondents who initially select the mid-point to determine whether they selected this alternative in order to indicate opinion neutrality, or to indicate that they do not have an opinion on the issue. We find the vast majority of responses turn out to be what we term ‘face-saving don’t knows’ and that reallocating these responses from the mid-point to the don’t know category significantly alters descriptive and multivariate inferences. Our findings have important implications for the design and analysis of bipolar ratings scales.

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Published date: 10 March 2010


Local EPrints ID: 73620
PURE UUID: af7fbb35-3933-4645-8ab0-839ac1ba3169

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Date deposited: 11 Mar 2010
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 23:49

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Author: Patrick Sturgis
Author: Caroline Roberts
Author: Patten Smith

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