Some general comments relating to these techniques

When administering these techniques, respondents are provided with a number of choices - words, statements, numbers - and required to select the one that most closely describes their attitude towards the subject. When applying these techniques, the researcher must decide how many choices to include as well as their wording.

There is disagreement on the ideal number of choices that should be offered to respondents. Four to eight choices appears to be preferred, with five the number used most often. There is also a lack of consensus on whether there should be an even or odd number of choices. An even number of choices compels the respondent to declare a position, whereas an odd number usually provides a middle position for situations where the respondent cannot identify their feelings. The drawback to offering a neutral position is that this choice attracts many respondents who do not have strong feelings on the issue and hence it does not allow the researcher to distinguish between answers.

There is a related issue which is relevant to the point about the 'odd versus even' number of questions: this concerns the provision of a category headed 'don't know'. There are many situations in which respondents do not have an opinion or are not sufficiently informed on a topic to have an opinion about it. A neutral position and a 'don't know' choice are not the same thing. Where both can occur, provision has to be made to record both.

Attention should also be given to the wording of choices. There should usually be an equal number of favourable or unfavourable statements. Responses can easily be biased if the majority of choices are either favourable or unfavourable.

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