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The interval scale is third in the four “levels of measurement” while a ratio scale is the fourth and highest in order. There are but few differences between an interval scale and a ratio scale. To understand these differences let’s first understand their definition.
The interval scale collects and measures data where intervals between two points are of equal distance. The scale provides a degree of difference along with the rank and order of the values as collected from a market research or survey. An interval scale, however, has a zero point with an arbitrary presence. This means that the value of zero has no real meaning.
The ratio scale, on the other hand, has the characteristics of all the levels of measurement as created by S.S. Stevens. It can rank and categorize the data obtained through the scale. Moreover, the distance between two variables in a ratio scale is also equal in distance. In addition, a ratio scale has a true zero point, meaning the value of zero is not arbitrary.
To understand the difference between the two scales with the help of the definition, we can take the example of temperature.
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The point of degrees in both these scales has equal intervals of exactly one degree. For instance, the distance between 29 and 30 degrees is the same as the distance between 99 and 100 degrees.
However, due to the absence of absolute zero, you cannot tell by how much the temperature is higher or lower. For example, you cannot say if 40 degrees is twice hot as 20 degrees or if – 20 degrees is half as cold as -40 degrees.
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Along with all the other values, in a Kelvin scale, the zero point has a relevant meaning. For instance, you can tell on a Kelvin scale that 40K is twice hot as 20K.
Also, the presence of absolute zero in a Kelvin scale means that nothing can be colder than OK. This is because on a ratio scale there can be no negative number.
Now let’s look into some other differences between interval and ratio scale.
The interval and ratio scale both have quantitative variables and are of higher level in the four levels of measurement. However, there are certain differences that set them apart.
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