Rate this Blog Post on a 1 to 10 Scale

May 26th, 2016 by John Richelsen

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It seems simple enough. You want to know how your customer rates you on a particular metric; let’s say how likely they are to buy your latest innovation. So what do you have them rate you on? On a scale from 1 to 5? 1 to 7? 1 to 10? Believe it or not, this very common survey tactic is an oft disputed subject among researchers.


For me, I’m a 10-point scale guy – especially when it comes to using numbers. When using descriptions or verbal statements though, 5 is a very workable solution because it gives your subject more context.


So why a 10-point scale instead of others? The way we look at market research, it allows us to see further variance than some of the coarser scales. This (hopefully) gives us some separation across variables that we can derive real insight for our clients’ studies. That sensitivity helps us refine our messaging, create stronger platforms, and apply validity.


And there are real-world tests of the value and variances of the 10-point scale. In general, scale questions tend to skew high. In other words, instead of responses clumping in the neutrals, they instead cluster towards the top end of the scale. However, a 10-point scale alleviates some of that.  Studies have shown that respondents will rate something lower on a 1 to 10 scale because they feel they can. We feel this gives a truer picture of what they are really thinking instead of thinking “well, a three seems too low. A four might be better.”


There are no hard rules about which scale size to use and you will find researchers from each camp. But at Level 7, we think the devil is in the details. And because of that, the more details, the better.


And anyway, Dudley Moore didn’t rate Bo Derek a 5.


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