Likert scale radio buttons: default choice?

by neil   Last Updated May 28, 2018 01:16 AM

We are making a simple Likert scale radio group for feedback and will group it as follows:

Please rate the service you received:

  • Very poor
  • Poor
  • Average
  • Good
  • Very good

According to usability guru Jakob Neilsen, radio choices should have one option selected as a default. In a typical Likert scale like above, what would be the most appropriate to select as default? 'Average', as it is in the middle or 'Very good', which might appear presumptuous?

Tags : forms surveys

Answers 3

It is perfectly acceptable for a radio group not to have a default selection if you don't want to influence the user's response (such as in a survey). Microsoft provides this advice in its design guidelines for radio buttons:

Don't have a default selection if...The goal is to collect unbiased data. Default values would bias data collection.

Matt Obee
Matt Obee
February 21, 2014 16:37 PM

Classic testing theory suggests you should use an even number of options as people tend to plump for the middle one. Even numbers force a more positive/negative decision.

February 28, 2014 13:42 PM

Select a single radio button by default in most cases. Reasons to deviate or not: expedite tasks, the power of suggestion, user expectations, safety nets.

Same source:

May 28, 2018 00:47 AM

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