Smiley rating

Smiley rating

Smiley rating definition:

A smiley rating question is a rating question, most often used to get a clear view of how someone likes your product, service, or business. The smiley question is a 5-point rating scale intended to represent a range of sentiments from negative to neutral to positive, making smiley ratings most useful when measuring emotions or feelings.

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Smiley rating example:

smiley rating example

For your convenience, we've listed the main pros and cons of this type of rating question below.


Advantages of a smiley rating question type:

  • Rating scales add a measure of data precision
  • They create standardization, allowing you to compare different people, topic, or products easily
  • They work as a general system; therefore, appraisals and assessments can be created for almost anything

Disadvantages of a smiley rating question type:

  • The downside to rating scales is the drawback of misunderstood information.
  • There is also a considerable threat of skewed data; the vast majority of users will provide a positive rating; they're using it over competitive alternatives and want to justify their decision. There will only be a few who have conducted an unbiased assessment of the available alternatives.
  • People interpret the rating differently. As with any grading, some are more inclined to be generous compared to others.


You might think that the smiley rating answer options are so simple, so you’ll try and ask your respondents a more complicated question. Don’t fall into this trap. All the usual golden rules for writing survey questions apply:

  • Keep the question short and simple! Consider just including a one-line question without defining what the smileys represent. These icons are pretty much universal, and you may find that respondents will answer quicker and not lose interest in the survey when it’s an easy question to understand and answer. You might find you’ll lose respondents if you start telling them, “The face on the left represents…”
  • Avoid double-barrelled questions. Only ask respondents to rate one thing, for example, “How would you rate the delivery time” and not, “How would you rate the delivery time and quality of item received.” You’ll run into problems when you come to analyze the data as you won’t be able to tell what exactly your respondents were rating.
  • Even in a smiley rating question, you must make sure that it is not a leading question. For example, don’t ask, “How satisfied were you with our renowned waitress …”. By using the word “renowned,” you are causing the respondents to be biased and give them a higher rating. Make sure to avoid using wording that suggests a particular answer is desirable.

For more guidelines about using rating questions in general, read through our Rating scales glossary guide.

Survey Anyplace offers a range of possible icons for you to use in your rating questions – choose between stars, smileys, emojis, or flowers. If you choose to use the star rating scale, you’ll have the option of using between 3-10 stars.

Vincent is the author of this solution article.

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