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Rating Scale Research. Aoife Kilduff. Rating Scale Usage – 6 point Scale.

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rating scale usage 6 point scale
Rating Scale Usage – 6 point Scale
  • Both Frequency and Development scale rating usage are very similar. In these scales the 4th and 5th rating are the most common. The average standard deviation is approximately 1 and there is a bias for positive rating with 84% of ratings being 3 or over.
  • The agreement scale is very different. In this scale the 5th rating is the most common with respondents choosing ‘Strongly Agree’ nearly 50% of the time. The average standard deviation is 0.85 and the bias for positive ratings is very strong with 94% of ratings being 3 or over.
6 point frequency vs 6 point development scale
6 point frequency vs 6 point development scale

Both the development and frequency scales differ significantly from the normal distribution.

There is only a slight difference in the average skewness of the rating scales and they are both biased towards positive ratings with 84% of ratings being 3 or more.

However the frequency scale received a negative kurtosis value which suggests that the distribution is flatter than normal. On the other hand the development scale displayed a positive kurtosis value which suggests a distribution which is more peaked than normal. This suggests that in the frequency scale the scores are more spread out.

6 point frequency scale labels vs no labels
6 point frequency scale: Labels vs No Labels

6 point frequency rating scales with only end labels are more negatively skewed than scales with all labels present.

End label scales display even more of a bias for positive ratings with 87% of ratings being 3 or over compared to 84% on normal 6 point frequency scales.

Research also suggests that fully labelled scales are more effective as they ensure that respondents understand the meaning of each point on the scale.

rating scale usage 5 point scale
Rating Scale Usage – 5 point Scale
  • For all 5 point scales, there is a bias for the 4th rating. This bias is significantly more pronounced in the agreement scale where 50% of ratings are ‘Agree’.
  • Although all the scales are negatively skewed, the development scale is the least so with only 59% of ratings being on the positive end of the scale (4 and 5).
  • The frequency rating scale distribution is very negatively skewed with only 6% of ratings being on the negative end of the scale (1 and 2).
rating scale usage 4 point scale
Rating Scale Usage – 4 point Scale
  • Again we see that both development and frequency rating scale usage is similar. In these scales the mode is 3 and there is a bias for positive ratings with around 80% of ratings being 3 or over.
  • However in the agreement scale there is a significant bias for the 4th rating “Strongly Agree” with over 50% of the ratings falling in this category.
  • The agreement scale is also significantly negatively skewed with over 95% of ratings being 3 or over.
which scale is the best
Which Scale is the best?

2

3

1

  • N.B. There is no right or wrong scale to use. What works best depends on the purpose of the survey and the types of items included.