Why I Hate 5 and 7 Point Measurement Scales

One beginner online survey tip is to avoid using Yes/No questions whenever possible.  Instead, you’re supposed to use 5 or 7 point Likert scales.  Well – to that I say — Pshah!iStock_000003504311XSmall

These rating scales all have a middle or “neutral” option.  I know — I know — they are supposed to have a neutral option.  But if you give people a neutral option – they will take it.  And when it comes down to it, giving people a neutral options allows THEM to bail on a very important decision — whether they like something or hate it.  Is it yes or is it no.  Don’t give me a maybe — that’s not good enough.

Why choosing positive or negative is a good thing

  • It forces the respondent to stop and think.  When you give people a neutral option, it gives them an out.  They don’t stop and think, they just choose neutral and move on.  Making them decide if it’s a good thing or a bad thing — makes them stop (even for a moment) and consider which side they are on.
  • It’s good or it’s bad.  Granted, you will still get an average score — but that score will either be positive or negative — no weasel numbers.  That might be tough to swallow, but you will know where you stand with your customers.
  • It focuses you on where to put your resources.  If you’re not sure where to put your priorities, this dichotomous scale is a style that will help you decide exactly where to put your efforts.

I’m sure many of you have some strong opinions about this topic and I’d love to hear them!  Put them in the comments below and let’s get a conversation started.