Tips: using rating scales

We prefer the 7-point scale as it gives the respondent more options to describe their level of satisfaction. It gives more ‘granularity’.  When using a 7-point scale you can treat those rating a 6-7 as ‘satisfied’, ratings of 3-5 as ‘neutral’, and ratings of 1-2 as ‘dissatisfied’. 


However, the 7-point scale can be confusing for some people (e.g. elderly people) who are not familiar with it.  For this reason, it can be safer to use a 5-point scale for consumer surveys. 


Tip 1  if using the 5-point scale and describing each point on the scale, ensure the descriptions give a ‘smooth gradient’ to the scale. So, for example:


  • 5 = very satisfied; 4 = somewhat satisfied; 3 = neither satisfied not dissatisfied; …


  • Has a smoother gradient than:   5 = extremely satisfied; 4 = very satisfied; 3 = neither satisfied not dissatisfied; …



Tip 2 the 10-point scale is also an option and is easy to understand.  However, there is a lack of consensus on whether you should use an 8 or 9 rating as the cut-off point for being regarded as ‘satisfied’