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Scales are too broad

Position on issues can be measured with 5-, 7-, 9-, 10-, 11-, or even 100-point scales, where 5-point scales have numerous practical advantages:

  • everyone knows them from school;
  • they are prevalent in surveys because respondents already have experience with them;
  • standardised interpretations of calculated average values exist – high degree of preference (e.g. satisfaction) begins at 4.0, while critically low values start below 3.0;
  • comparisons between questions and questionnaires are easier because of the 5-point scale popularity.

In practice, all of these factors outweigh minor theoretical advantages of even broader scales. In certain cases, it is more appropriate to use broader scales (e.g. 1-7, 0-10, or even 1-100 slider), more specific scales (e.g. semantic differential) or even scales with an even number of response options that force the respondent to take a position (e.g. 4 categories: very unsatisfied, unsatisfied, satisfied, very satisfied).

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