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. 

What is a Survey Scale?

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.  


Types of Surveys Scale

Dichotomous Scale

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. 

Pros of Dichotomous Scale

  1. It helps you gather direct and precise responses in research.
  2. It prevents vague or ambiguous answers that may not prove useful in the research.
  3. To a large extent, it results in valid and objective survey data.

Cons of Dichotomous Scale

  1. It is quite restrictive and can prevent respondents from fully communicating their thoughts.
  2. It can lead to survey response bias due to fatigue. When this happens, respondents tend to tilt towards positive answers.
  3. They can be used for leading or loaded questions.

Dichotomous Scale Question Samples

Did you enjoy using our product?

  • Yes
  • No

Our service delivery is top-notch.

  • Agree
  • Disagree

Was this article helpful to you?

  • Yes
  • No

Rating Scale

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. 

Types of Rating Scales 

  • Graphic Rating Scale

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

Graphic Rating Scale Question Sample

This product meets your needs effectively.

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree

  • Numerical Rating 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

  • Comparative Rating 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. 

  • Descriptive Rating Scale

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. 

Pros of Rating Scales

  1. Rating scales are easy to understand and fill out.
  2. It allows you to collect and process large volumes of data.
  3. It is quick and time-efficient.

Cons of Rating Scales 

  1. It does not allow for adequate observation and representation of data.
  2. It is subject to ambiguity.
  3. Rating scales can result in the collection of generic data from survey respondents.

Ranking Scale

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. 

Types of Ranking Scales

  • Scale Ranking

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

  1. Rank the following in order of preference

Product Feature A.

Product Feature B.

Product Feature C

  • Constant Sum

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. 

  • Drag and Drop Scale

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

  1. It provides a vivid picture of the perceptions of respondents.
  2. It allows for swift data collection and analysis.

Cons of Ranking Scales

  1. It does not provide specific insights into the responses gathered. It allows you to understand what matters most to your respondents.
  2. It can be time-consuming and difficult to administer.

Likert Scale 

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. 

Pros of Likert Scale

  1. It provides a wide range of options that covers varying perceptions and points of view.
  2. It makes it easy for you to gather and process data.
  3. It is very easy to set up and administer surveys with Likert scales.

Cons of Likert Scale

  1. It can lead to survey response bias.
  2. It can take a long time to analyze data gathered via a Likert scale.

Likert Scale Question Sample

How likely are you to buy from us?

  1. Very likely
  2. Somewhat likely
  3. Neutral
  4. Unlikely
  5. Very unlikely

Semantic Differential Scale

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: 

  • Matrix Rating Scale

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. 

  • Open-ended Question

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. 

  • Slider Scale

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. 

  • Satisfaction Scale

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. 

Semantic Differential Scale Question Sample

  • How satisfied are you with our services?
  • Tell us how you feel about our service delivery.
  • How would you rate our service delivery?

Pros of Semantic Differential Scale

  1. It allows you to collect valid and objective data.
  2. It allows respondents to express their thoughts clearly.
  3. The findings from a semantic differential scale are more authentic than other types of rating scales.

Cons of Semantic Differential Scale

  1. Lack of standardization in terms of the number of divisions that should be included in the scale.
  2. It is difficult to represent neutral responses with this scale.
  3. It can lead to survey response bias.

Also Read: 7 Types of Data Measurement Scales in Research

How to Create Surveys with Scales on Formplus 

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: 

  • Sign in to your Formplus account to access your dashboard and start creating your survey with scales. If you do not have a Formplus account, you can sign up for one for free here.
  • In your dashboard, click the “create new form” button to access the form builder. You can also edit any of the available form templates for your survey.
  • In the form fields section, drag and drop preferred response scales to add them to your form. Formplus has numerous response scales including matrix and Likert scale options.

  • After adding the desired response scales, save your form to access the customization section of the builder. Here, you can change the appearance of your form by adding your organization’s logo and changing the survey’s background image.
  • Copy the form link and share it with survey respondents to collect information from them. You can use any of the multiple form sharing options to make data collection easier for you.

  • For instance, you can send out email invitations to respondents or share your form with your online community via the Share page.

Tips to Increase Response Rate on Your Surveys 

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. 

  • Your survey should be concise, direct, and straight to the point. A lengthy survey can discourage respondents from completing your survey, which can negatively impact your response rate. Be sure to include only important questions in your survey. If your survey is lengthy, you should split your questionnaire into different sections and multiple pages to make it easier for respondents to complete it. 
  • Provide incentives to respondents for completing your survey. This is an easy way to encourage respondents to fill out your questionnaire and also share the survey with their network.
  • Target the right audience for your survey as this would help you get a large volume of valid responses. Ensure that the target audience for your survey has direct or indirect knowledge of the survey context or subjects.
  • Leverage multiple form sharing options to get your survey across to a large audience both online and offline. You can send out email invitations to respondents or encourage them to fill out the survey using Formplus social media direct sharing buttons.
  • Unless necessary, do not ask respondents to provide personal information in your surveys. Gathering data anonymously makes it easier for respondents to freely communicate their thoughts and beliefs about the subject matter.
  • Send out your survey at the right time.


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. 

  • busayo.longe
  • on 11 min read


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