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How Many Points on YOUR Rating Scale?

Posted by on August 8th, 2012 Posted in: Practical Evaluation


In survey design workshops, we are often asked if rating scales designed to measure respondents’ opinions and attitudes should have an odd number of points, including a neutral mid-point (i.e., “Neither agree or disagree”); or if it’s better to have an even number of points, without a mid-point.  Our answer, which probably frustrates our participants to no end, is “it depends.”  You have to clearly think through what a “neutral” answer means and choose accordingly. Here is a link to a clever blog entry by Jane Davidson that makes this point very well and gives you ways to think about how many points your rating scales should have:

Boxers or briefs? Why having a favorite response scale makes no sense

(There are some insightful readers’ comments to this blog post that you might find interesting as well.)

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Cindy Olney is the Assistant Director of the NNLM Evaluation Office.

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