Survey scales have become one of the most common elements of quantitative data collection. These scales help you to gather and organize large volumes of data during data collection; especially in quantitative research.
At one point or the other, you must have come across a survey scale during data collection; whether as a survey respondent or administrator. Although survey scales are common, only a few know how to properly use them to carry out research.
A survey scale is an orderly arrangement of different survey response options. It typically consists of a specific range of verbal or numerical options that respondents can choose from as they provide answers to questions in a survey or questionnaire.
Survey scales are important because they help respondents to quantify what they think or how they feel about certain things. In other words, it allows respondents to assign specific quantifiable values to feelings, ideas, experiences, and expectations.
If you want to ask customers to provide feedback about your organization’s service delivery, you need to use a survey scale. It makes it easier for them to communicate their answers according to the descriptive or numerical values in the scale, instead of providing vague or ambiguous responses.
To a large extent, survey scales help you to measure variables that are inferred; that is, variables that cannot be communicated directly. More properly, it is a composite score of several survey questions that each measure the same attribute.
A dichotomous scale is a type of survey response scale that provides two options, which lie at opposite ends. On a dichotomous scale, the survey respondent can not give a neutral answer because it is a case of either one or the other.
As a result of its binary layout, a dichotomous scale is used when you need to gather precise data in research. In such situations, any answer that is indifferent, neutral, or described as “sitting on the fence” will not serve the purpose of the data collection process.
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A rating scale is a type of survey response scale that allows respondents to match specific qualitative values with different assertions, products, or features. With a rating scale, you simply answer the survey question by picking one of the rating options on the scale.
A rating scale can be categorized as ordinal or interval. Ordinal rating scales present the values and options in an orderly manner; for example, ascending or descending order. In an interval scale, the options are presented in an orderly manner and the difference between each option can be measured.
In a graphic rating scale, the answer options provided are placed on a scale of 1-3, 1-5, and so on. Respondents can choose an option on the scale that reflects their rating for a specific assertion in the data collection context.
A good example of this type of rating scale is the Likert scale.
As the name suggests, a numerical rating scale is a type of rating scale with numbers as answer options. This means that respondents would have to choose a number on the scale that corresponds with their perceptions in the specific research context.
A good example of this is the semantic differential scale.
This is a type of rating scale that requires respondents to answer questions in specific comparative contexts. For example, respondents can be asked to rate a specific product feature functionality in comparison with another product or feature.
Here, the answer options listed are accompanied by descriptive explanations to help respondents choose objective responses. This type of rating scale can be found in customer satisfaction surveys.
A ranking scale is a type of close-ended scale that measures people's preferences by asking them to rank their views on a list of related items. In other words, respondents simply evaluate and rank different items in a row based on the criterion stated in a specific column.
This type of survey response scale is typically used in market research to gather feedback on different sets of product features. Depending on the context of your survey and research needs, there are different types of ranking scales you can include in your questionnaire and survey.
This type of ranking is commonly used with multiple-choice questions. Here, respondents are asked to rank a set of items such as product features or customer experience categories, against each other.
Scale ranking takes numerous forms including a drop-down scale, emoji scale, and heart scale, just to mention a few.
Scale Ranking Question Sample
Product Feature A.
Product Feature B.
Product Feature C
This is a common type of ranking scale that is used for financial surveys or surveys that involve some degree of summation or calculation. With constant sum, there is a predetermined total and when filling the survey, respondents are required to input numbers for each variable being considered.
For this scale, respondents need to drag and drop different survey variables and rearrange them in the ranking order that they prefer. This makes it easier for respondents to communicate their perceptions and provide valid survey responses.
Pros of Ranking Scales
Cons of Ranking Scales
This is a type of psychometric scale that is used to collect information about people's opinions and perceptions on specific subjects and contexts. It is used to measure the degree to which people agree or disagree with a question or statement.
As we've mentioned earlier, a Likert scale is a type of rating scale. It is considered one of the most effective types of ranking scales; especially in social and educational research. Likert scales commonly have a 3-point, 4-point, or 5-point scale structure.
The options on a Likert scale can be numeric or verbal; respondents choose answer options that best represent how they feel or what they think about the statement or assertion in question. This type of survey response scale is commonly deployed in customer satisfaction surveys.
A semantic differential scale is a rating scale that requires respondents to rate a product, feature, entity, or team based on semantic variables listed as scale options. These variables are typically opposite adjectives at each end of the scale.
With this type of survey scale, respondents need to choose options that best reflect their emotions within the defined context. Let's look at a few types of semantic differential scales you can include in your survey:
This type of scale requires survey respondents to provide answers to closed-ended questions by evaluating a set of items. It is usually presented in a grid-like format consisting of rows and columns.
This is a type of survey question that does not restrict respondents to a set of premeditated answers. In other words, respondents are allowed to communicate their thoughts and experiences, completely, without any limitations.
This type of semantic differential scale allows respondents to choose preferred survey response options by simply sliding the scale's cursor to the option they want.
This is a type of semantic differential scale that allows respondents to communicate their degree of satisfaction with a product, feature, or service. It is common in customer satisfaction and feedback surveys.
Formplus is a data collection tool that helps you to create and administer surveys seamlessly. With our drag-and-drop form builder, you can easily add different types of survey response scales to your questionnaire and collect data effectively from numerous respondents.
Follow this step-by-step guide to create surveys with scales on Formplus:
A good survey response rate lends credibility to your survey and allows you to gather enough data to arrive at valid research findings. This is why you must take extra care to ensure a good response rate for your surveys.
Getting a good survey response rate isn't difficult even though it can be challenging. The tips we'll share here would help you to increase your survey response rate and gather objective information during data collection.
Knowing how to utilize response scales in your survey is essential to your data collection process. This is because survey response scales, when used the right way, play an important role in qualitative and quantitative research by helping you to collect large volumes of data.
As we've mentioned in this article, there are several response scales that you can use in your surveys including dichotomous scales and semantic differential scales. Adding one or more of these scales to the survey can make a difference in your data collection process.
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