Use Slider Scales for a More Accurate Rating

Years ago, when I used to work as an interviewer for a market research firm, we were trained to ask rating questions a certain way.  For example:

INTERVIEWER:  On a scale of 1-5 where 1 is not at all likely and 5 is extremely likely, How likely are you to refer Brand X to a friend or family member?

RESPONDENT:  Ummm let’s see.  Well, 3 or 4.

INTERVIEWER:  Well, would you say closer to 3 or closer to 4?

RESPONDENT:  How about 3 1/2?

INTERVIEWER: Would you say closer to 3 or closer to 4?

You can see how annoying that is – both for the interviewer and for the respondent.  It’s a good thing I had this experience, because if I didn’t — I would never see what researchers have already discovered; the Likert scale is a rather imprecise instrument. A participant’s true opinion can lie in the spaces between the allowable answers and even beyond the traditional end points. Some suggest other scales may be better at enabling survey respondents to differentiate their opinions.

Slider questions are a great alternative to Likert Scales

You may be wondering what a slider question is —

Interactive Slider Rating Scales | Scale (Slider) QuestionPro Online Survey Software

In this case, a picture is worth all the explanation — instead of only giving you a 5, 7 or 10 point scale, a slider scale gives you the option to create a 100 point scale.

What are the benefits of using Interactive Slider Rating Scales?

Slider Rating Scales gives researchers the opportunity to produce question and answer styles that incorporate a greater breadth of answers, as well as enable animation and interactivity.

In other words, respondents will no longer be aching for that 3.5 rating — they can simply slide to whatever rating most fits their opinion.

When to use slider scale questions

Sliding scale questions are best for ONLINE surveys or mobile surveys.  The power of the slider scale question type is in the respondent’s ability to SLIDE and control the rating to whatever they want.

While you CAN use this question type via a live intercept survey, it doesn’t quite have the same kinesthetic power as when a respondent moves the slider themselves.

Slider Scale Question Types and Data

The slider scale question type default is a matrix question.  This means that you’ll have columns of ratings and rows of things to rate.  There are two types of slider scale questions: the category (text) option — these are questions that have answers such as Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor as a category.  The other option is the numeric option — these are questions with numeric ranges i.e. from 1 – 100.

When you use a category type slider, the ratings will be the traditional number scales such as you might find on a Likert Scale.  This means that the only choices for answers would be the categories and their corresponding values; 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 for example.

When you use a numeric scale and provide a range from 1-100, then the respondent can slide the scale to ANY number inside that range such as 3, 54, 76, etc.

The slider scale question type is not as commonly used as the standard Likert scale, but it’s really one you should use more often.  It gives respondents more interaction with the survey instrument and it will give you a  more accurate reading of exactly the range that the respondent feels best represents their opinion.