The Impact of Item Readability on the Endorsement of the Midpoint Response in Surveys

Pauline Velez, Steven D. Ashworth


Researchers have debated including a midpoint response in questionnaire scales, and they have
debated what the selection of that response option represents. Using data from employee opinion
surveys of a large financial services organization based primarily in the United States, this
study explored whether the endorsement of the midpoint response is related to an item’s readability
and its perceived clarity. The results showed the endorsement of the midpoint response
was significantly correlated with the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level index, average letters per
word, and average number of syllables per word. The results also showed that as the perceived
clarity of an item increases, the endorsement of the midpoint response decreases. These findings
have important implications both to researchers and organizations that conduct surveys
with their employees.


Midpoint; neutral response; surveys; item readability

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