Survey Scale definition
In common survey usage, a scale is an ordered series of response options, presented verbally or numerically from which the respondents select to indicate their level of feeling about the measured attribute. More properly a scale is a composite score of a number of survey questions that each measure the same attribute.
Types of survey scales
- Dichotomous Scales
A dichotomous scale is a two-point scale that presents options that are absolutely opposite each other. This type of response scale does not give the respondent an opportunity to be neutral on his answer to a question.
- Yes - No
- True - False
- Fair - Unfair
- Agree - Disagree
- Rating Scales
Three-point, five-point, and seven-point scales are all included in the umbrella term “rating scale”. A rating scale provides more than two options, in which the respondent can answer in neutrality over a question being asked.
- 1-10 scale
- 1-7 scale
- Likert scale (1-5)
- Semantic Differential Scales
A semantic differential scale is only used in specialist surveys in order to gather data and interpret based on the connotative meaning of the respondent’s answer. It uses a pair of clearly opposite words, where the respondent is asked to rate an object, person, or any concept by putting a mark on one of the spaces along each dimension.
Examples of a semantic differential scale:
- Inexpensive [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] Expensive
- Effective [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] Ineffective
Other scale types
- Verbal scale - a verbal scale also referred to as a “word statement” or “scale expression”, is where the response options are presented to the respondent using words, whether spoken or written.
- Guttman scale - an ordinal scale type where statements are arranged in a hierarchical order so that someone who agrees with one item will also agree with lower-order, easier, less extreme items.
- Likert scale - Questions utilizing a Likert scale generally present the respondent with a statement and asks for his/her level of agreement with the statement by selecting a point on the scale. These points have often verbal statements or numbers attached to them. The scale should be balanced between positive and negative agreement options.
- Interval scale - An interval scale has intervals which each have the same interpretation and do not have a "true" zero point, therefore it is not possible to make statements about how many times higher one score is than another. One unit on the scale represents the same magnitude on the trait or characteristic being measured across the whole range of the scale.
- Continuous scale - On a continuous scale, respondents rate the objects by placing a mark at the appropriate position on a line that runs from one extreme of the variable to the other. The form of the continuous scale may vary considerably.
- Comparative scale - Comparative scales involve the direct comparison of stimulus objects. Most often, the respondent is asked to compare one brand, product or feature against another. Comparative scale data must be interpreted in relative terms and have only ordinal or rank order properties.
- Discrete scale - Discrete data, like counts, are numeric data that have a finite number of possible values and can only be whole numbers. Discrete data arise from observations that can only take certain numerical values. Fractions are meaningless. In some situations, mathematical functions or calculations are not possible either.
- Forced choice scale - A forced-choice scale (also known as an ipsative scale) is a rating scale that does not allow for an Undecided, Neutral, Doesn't know, or No opinion response.