Semantic differential questions

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What is a semantic differential question?

The semantic differential question asks respondents to rate any parameter of an organization on a multi-point rating system. The answer options consist of opposite adjectives at each end. For example, pleasant/unpleasant, love/hate, happy/sad, etc.

This feature is the most reliable way to measure people's emotional attitudes towards a product or service.

Learn more: Semantic differential scale

Example of a semantic differential question in a survey

Researchers widely use semantic differential questions in surveys for research. Let's consider a retailer who sells sports goods and wants to know the customers' feedback on how satisfied they are with their quality. To obtain maximum responses, a retailer uses the smiley rating scale, which ranges from very unsatisfied to very satisfied. It helps the retailers know the people's attitudes towards the product and help them stay ahead of the curve from a product and a customer satisfaction standpoint.


The HR department in the organization uses the semantic differential in survey questions to measure employee satisfaction levels.


Uses of semantic differential survey questions

Listed below are the areas where you can use semantic differential questions to derive actionable insights.

Types of semantic differential questions

Different types of semantic questions are used in surveys depending on the need and response collection method. The most common types are:

Slider scale question

The slider rating scale question includes the text slider with textual answer options. Based on this, the respondents will leave the indicator at the point where the answer is to be selected.


Non-slider scale question

The non-slider rating scale question includes radio buttons, a more traditional survey look, and feels with a scale of 1 to 5.


Smiley-rating scale

The question type with a 5 point rating scale, represents the sentiments from negative to positive. It communicates the emotions that are easy and engaging for the respondents. Adding this question intends to keep engaging the respondents and get a better completion rate.

Learn more: Smiley face question.


Rank order question

The rank order question allows the respondents to order the product or brands as per their interest. In the below example, a person who loves to swim will rank the answer option as 5, and the person who hates skiing will rate the answer option as "1".

Learn more: Rank order question.


Advantages of using a semantic differential survey

The semantic differential survey is one of the most reliable ways to capture feedback on people's emotions towards a particular entity. Listed below are the three significant advantages of semantic differential:

How to use a semantic differential question in your surveys?

Explore our help file on semantic differential scale to learn how to use this survey feature.

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