Ever had to measure something between a negative to a positive range? That’s what a staple scale survey is. Ratings and measuring experiences is now the norm in everyday life. Questions like how you enjoyed the concert on a scale of 1-5 and How would you rate your experience on a scale of 1-10 often occur in our everyday interactions.

Various ways of gauging experiences and products exist. In this post, we will focus on the Stapel Scale, the definition, characteristics, examples, ways to create a staple scale survey, and lots more.

What is a Stapel Scale? 

The name staple scale originates from its founder Jan Stapel. Stapel scale is a form of measurement in surveys to measure responses using a closed-ended numerical range, from a negative numeral to a positive one.

For instance, how would you describe your experience in our store on a scale of -5 to +5? An agreeable response is depicted by choosing the range of numbers with the positive sign, and a disagreement is indicated by picking a number with a negative qualifier. The Stapel scale usually appears vertically with a single adjective between the range of values (-5 to +5). 

It measures the extent to which an individual agrees or disagrees with a product, idea, experience, or incident.

Read: 7 Types of Data Measurement Scales in Research

Characteristics of Stapel Scale

The staple scale is usually displayed with a single adjective in the middle of the number list, and some of its features are as follows;

Conformity and Nonconformity: A staple scale usually measures the extent of agreement or disagreement with an object. A higher positive range depicts acceptance, while a negative range is the exact opposite. This implies that a +rating strongly conforms, and a -rating implies non-conformity.

Data Analysis: The data collated in a Stapel scale survey is processed as an interval, a quantitative measurement scale, arranged orderly, and any difference between the range is meaningful and equal, and 0 is inconsistent. Secondly, a staple scale can be treated similarly to data gathered using a semantic survey type. 

Read: 13 Free Likert Scale Templates + [Questionnaire Examples]

No Bipolarity: The characteristics of a staple scale ensure that the question presented is sufficient to collect clear feedback required from the participants. Staple questions are when some difficulty arises from getting the real results, from adjectives that qualify varying extreme results from the question, under different or similar conditions.

Examples of Stapel Scales

Example 1

How would you rate your experience with Formplus survey templates?

                                   Very Good                 Very Poor

                                      +3 +2 +1                    -3 -2 -1

  • Easy to build
  • Detailed templates
  • Easy integration

Example 2

Example 3

Formplus template builder can be used to create custom forms based on users’ preferences.

Strongly agree              Strongly disagree

   +3 +2 +1                       -3 -2 -1

No code required

Easy to edit

Drag and drop kanban style builder

Here we see how the scale is used to measure different criteria along the same parameters, with the positives depicting acceptance and the negatives showing disagreement.

How to Create a Stapel Scale Survey

Here are steps to help create a Stapel scale survey

The first step is to determine what you want to measure. For example ;

  • The satisfaction level you want to gauge
  • How much  to which you agree with a statement
  • The ease of completion
  • How much would you would recommend a service

The next step would be to decide on the following.

  • Determine the number or range of scale points to measure the results you intend to gather. For instance, is it a 3-point, 5-point, or 7-point range? In this case, the biggest number is always the highest rating, especially when qualified with a positive sign.
  • Clearly define what each numerical range means. Does +5 depict very good or excellent? This must be spelled out.

Read: Semantic Differential Scale: Definition+ [Question Examples]

Why Should You Use Stapel Scale Questions in Your Survey Research?

We have already established that a  Stapel scale survey is used to conduct an in-depth analysis of each unit of measurement in a question. Stapel questions are flexible enough to accommodate the maximum value of each response.

Stapel scale surveys come in handy in customer experience surveys because of the nature of feedback required which influences the kind of questions used.

The aim is to capture a full picture of the customer experience journey across all the touch points or criteria.

Stapel scale surveys should be employed across various niches for the following reasons;

1. Ease of administration

Stapel survey questions are straight to the point and easy to develop, and the rating style of answers and using options make it easy for the recipients to respond accurately.

2. The completion rate is high

The options provided in a direct format make it quick for the user to fill in their responses. The impact on the completion rate is due to the clear objective response to each question, unlike other surveys, which sometimes seem like job interview questions for entry-level software developers.

3. Aids collections of actionable insights

With the Stapel scale survey, each parameter is aligned with a unique numerical value, and the response from each user is clearly defined. This aids in collating actionable insights as a clear picture of the true state of things can be easily obtained.

4. Triggers a clear response as there is no neutral or zero

A Stapel scale survey helps collect the ideal or most ideal response to a question. It eliminates the possibility of a neutral answer leaving each objective to be aptly selected.

5. Gauges direction and the intensity of attitudes simultaneously

As the Stapel scale question treats and measures each question objectively, the focus and magnitude of each object are clearly defined. The intensity of the extent of positive or negativity provides a clear insight into the user’s mind. 

Stapel Scale vs Likert Scale

Likert Scale

This is a 5-7 point scale range that identifies the extent to which an individual agrees or disagrees with a concept. Likert scales provide a minimum of 5 possible responses to a question.

For example, Mangoes are more profitable for Farmers than Oranges.

In the Likert scales, figures define the extent to which users agree or strongly disagree. Responses in Likert scales are align according to rank order.

Stapel Scale

Stapel scale, on the other hand, measures the rate at which an individual accepts or rejects a concept. It is rated by figures based on a negative or a positive qualifier.

For example, How would you rate your experience with our hair shampoo?

  • Very Good:+5 +4 + 3 -5-4-3
  • Excellent:5 +4 + 3 -5-4-3
  • Good:5 +4 + 3 -5-4-3

The extent to which they enjoy the experience is linked by the figures with the positive qualifier. In contrast, what determines the intensity of their non-conformity is the figures in varying degrees with the negative qualifier.

Read: Survey Scale: Definitions, Types + [Question Examples]

Difference Between Stapel Scale and Semantic Differential Questions in a Survey

We have already established that a Stapel scale gauges responses based on a numerical range via a negative(-) or the positive qualifier(+), which usually depicts the intensity of agreement or non-agreement. So there are questions, and responses are within these parameters. Semantic Differential questions vary from the Stapel scale rating.

The semantic differential scale was invented by Charles Egerton Osgood, an American psychologist, to record the implications of individuals’ emotional responses on various topics. The questions are asked, and responses are locked between two opposite options.

For example, How would you rate your experience at the concert?

I was satisfied or dissatisfied.

There is no middle ground in the Semantics differential survey questions. The true emotion of how you feel is the focus.

While the characteristics of the Stapel are towards conformity /non-conformity, using numbers or figures from 1-5 with the plus/minus sign is a tool for measurement. Semantic focuses on the potency of an individual’s feelings toward an object. Words like hard/soft and strong/weak are common in semantic surveys.

Stapel questions and data analysis are along quantitative lines, while Semantic questions are along the lines of agility.,pace, activity level, and state of an object. So responses to semantic surveys are usually within adjectives like fast/slow, hot/cold, noisy/quiet, and tense/relaxed.

Unlike Stapel’s survey, which deals with agreement/disagreement. Semantic questions evaluate negative or positive responses. It’s either good or bad, beautiful or ugly, kind or unkind.

Finally, the Stapel scale employs close-ended questions, while the Semantic scale includes open-ended questions.

Advantages of Stapel Scales

  • Ease of creating and administering: It is straightforward and requires only quantitative responses based on the negative of positive parameter
  • Easy for the respondents to understand and respond to: The plus+ and minus  – rating system for each adjective in the Stapel scale survey simplifies the process for users.
  • Quantitative Rating: Quantitative grading eliminates any form of ambivalence in the minds of users towards their true feeling about a subject. 
  • Eliminates Neutrality: A Stapel scale survey aids in recording the truth as perceived by an individual. In the absence of a neutral rating, ensure that the answers to questions are apt. 
  • Provides direction and measures the intensity of attitudes simultaneously: The nature and response template of the Stapel scale deliver in-depth clarity and helps researchers get to the crux of the matter.

Disadvantages of Stapel Scale 

  • The nature of the Stapel scale survey that leaves no room for neutrality or freedom to express other feelings can distort the true results.
  • Respondents pick the closest answers that depict their feelings or just pick randomly because the options that express their true state of mind are not in the responses.
  • There is no way to measure if the respondents fully understand the implications of the answers they select, especially with similar numbers having the same negative (-) qualifier.
  • It could be a challenge for individuals who are not good with numbers, and sometimes it might be difficult to identify which number correctly expresses their thoughts.


The Stapel scales technique is one of the options available when carrying out a survey. It helps researchers to measure the intensity and extent of the feelings or perceptions of individuals concerning an object, subject, or experience.

It is easy to create, use, administer and analyze. The approach of Stapel scale surveys helps researchers eliminate any form of ambiguity in the responses that they collate.

  • Angela Kayode-Sanni
  • on 8 min read


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