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Survey Rating Scales

Market research 04 12
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Table of Contents


What are Survey Rating Scales?

Rating scales allow survey responses to be analysed using quantitative scales. Opinions and behaviors can be measured on a scale, in order to extract constructive information from surveys. Without good survey rating scales, the information collected can contain biases, impacting survey results negatively.

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Types of Rating Scales

The two main types of scales we will be considering in this article are:

  1. Number Rating Scales: This includes rating scales that use numbers, for instance ratings between 0 to 5, or 0 to 10.
  2. Word Rating Scales: Word rating scales use words, such as the likert scale. For example, a rating scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree.

Number Rating Scales

Number scales can be used in surveys to indicate the strength of a respondent’s opinion. Let’s evaluate number rating scales by looking at its advantages and disadvantages. 

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Advantages of Number Rating Scales

Easy to Understand

Number scales are easily interpreted and are universally accepted as a form of survey measurement. This scale can be used while surveying populations with low levels of education or while surveying internationally as most people and cultures are familiar with the standard numeric scale.

Easy to Conduct Statistical Analysis

With number scales, each category can represent the same value as its score. As every category label reflects its score, the need for coding information before conducting analysis can be eliminated. This makes the process of conducting statistical analysis much quicker and easier.  

More Precise Answers

Numbered scales allow researchers to obtain more precise answers compared to word scales. With word scales, respondents may get confused or overwhelmed when there are more than seven categories. However, with number lists, scales can be much longer without running the risk of confusing survey respondents.

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Disadvantages of Number Rating Scales


The biggest drawback of number rating scales is the subjectivity of category labels. Different people may interpret numbers on a number scale differently. A 10 for someone may mean “excellent”, but for another person may just mean “more than satisfactory”.

Response Error

A lot of respondents find it difficult to justify selecting a category at the extreme ends of a number scale. This may lead to respondents with the same opinion to select different categories, creating response error.


Word Rating Scales

Word scales provide a list of  scored categories where descriptions are used to indicate what each category represents. Although scoring values are customizable, they typically are as follows:

  • Strongly Agree = 5
  • Agree = 4
  • Neutral = 3
  • Disagree = 2
  • Strongly Disagree = 1 

These are the advantages and disadvantages of word rating scales.


Advantages of Word Rating Scales

Can be Interpreted Clearly 

Word scales provide descriptions with each category that allow respondents to choose the label that reflects their own opinion on the subject most accurately. 

Easier to Present Findings

Word scales help researchers present survey findings verbatim to respondent opinions. For instance, when a scale of 0-10 is used and 50% of the respondents choose 10, this may be hard to reflect in words. However, if 50% of the respondents choose ‘strongly agree’, the researcher can accurately report that 50% of survey respondents strongly agreed with the statement. 

Scoring Flexibility

Researchers have the freedom to score and label categories however they choose with word labels. The scaling can also be unbalanced, and does not have to be linear.

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Disadvantages of Word Rating Scales

Responses must be Coded

Unlike number scales where category labels can reflect their score, word rating scales require coding responses into score values before statistical analysis can be performed.  

May be hard to Understand

Some respondents may find it difficult to interpret categories on a word scale especially if they are not fluent in the language of the survey. 

Limited Categories

As mentioned earlier, word scales can’t contain more than 7 categories as it can result in confusion. Therefore, word scales can only have a limited number of categories, reducing the level of precision that can be achieved through the rating scale.


Why Choose Voxco?

Voxco’s omnichannel survey software allows you to reach respondents through various modes all through one centralized platform. You can use both, number or word rating scales, depending on what is best suited to your needs. Additionally, with Voxco you can have access to a range of survey templates and question types to create surveys that help you deliver all the information you require.

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