Exactly the same

Completely different

Itemised rating scale

Here the respondent is provided with a scale that has numbers and/or a brief description associated with each category. They are asked to select one of the categories, ordered in terms of scale position, that best describes the object under study. The scale can take on various formats reflecting the number of categories used, the nature and degree of verbal description, the number of favourable and unfavourable categories and the presence of the neutral position. This kind of scale can have any number of response categories. However, the controlling factor concerns the respondent's ability to discriminate among categories.

Various types of verbal description and numeric format can be employed and the former do help to ensure that respondents are operating from the same base. However, the presence of verbal descriptions will influence the responses obtained. Pictures and other types of graphics may also be used.

If an equal number of favourable and unfavourable classes are used, a scale is balanced; otherwise the scale is unbalanced. You might want to use an unbalanced scale when the distribution of responses is likely to be skewed. More categories might be used in the direction of the skewness. Unbalanced scales are often used when asking socially threatening questions or in cases where most of the respondents are likely to have positive (or, conversely, negative) opinions about a subject.

When a balanced rating scale is used, there is a choice between using an even or an odd number of scale items. In the case of an odd number of scale items, the middle scale position is usually designated as a neutral point.

Itemised rating scales are often used to measure purchase intentions. Purchase intention scales represent an attempt to measure a respondent's interest in a brand or product.

Multiple-item scale

A multiple-item scale consists of a number of statements to which the respondent must react. For example, a respondent might be asked to indicate how favourable or unfavourable each statement is. An overall score is then determined by combining the reactions to each.

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