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What is the semantic differential scale?

A semantic differential scale is a survey or questionnaire rating scale that asks people to rate a product, company, brand, or any 'entity' within the frames of a multi-point rating option. These survey answering options are grammatically on opposite adjectives at each end. For example, love-hate, satisfied-unsatisfied, and likely to return-unlikely to return with intermediate options in between.

Surveys or questionnaires using the semantic differential question is the most reliable way to get information on people’s emotional attitude towards a topic of interest.

Charles Egerton Osgood, a famous American psychologist, invented the semantic differential scale so that this 'connotative meaning' of emotional attitude towards entities can be recorded and put to good use.

Osgood conducted this research on an extensive database and found that three scales were commonly useful, irrespective of race or culture or difference in language:

Researchers can measure a wide variety of subjects using these combinations, like customers’ outlooks about an upcoming product launch or employee satisfaction.

What is the semantic differential scale?

The ease-of-understanding and the popularity it comes with it makes it extremely reliable. The data collection is accurate due to the versatility that these survey questions come with.

Researchers use the semantic differential scale questions to ask respondents to rate products, organization, or services with multi-point questions with polar adjectives at the extremes of this scale like likely/ unlikely, happy/sad, loved the service/ hated the service.

Semantic differential scale examples & question types

1. Slider rating scale: Questions that feature a graphical slider give the respondent a more interactive way to answer the semantic differential scale question.


2. Non-slider rating scale: The non-slider question uses typical radio buttons for a more traditional survey look and feel. Respondents are more used to answering.


3. Open-ended questions: These questions give the users ample freedom to express their emotions about your organization, products, or services.


4. Ordering: The ordering questions offer the scope to rate the parameters that the respondents feel are best or worst according to their personal experiences.


5. Satisfaction rating: The easiest and eye-catchy semantic differential scale questions are the satisfaction rating questions.


Advantages of semantic differential


Points to consider while using the semantic differential

QuestionPro provides you with the necessary resources to collect all types of various data, including the semantic differential survey feature. When seeking an alternative solution provider, though, consider the following:

Using a semantic differential scale: The QuestionPro process

1. Create your questionnaire: QuestionPro gives you access to over 350 different survey templates for distribution, editing, or simply brainstorming new ideas. Customize the questions, question types, order, and color to fit your exact needs.
2. Collect responses: After creating your survey, you can distribute it via email, direct link, or embedding HTML code on your website or blog. You can view a snapshot report, in real-time, of your current responses.
3. Analyze your findings: After the survey ends and you're done collecting responses, you can view detailed reports with customization at your fingertips. You can apply filters, work with pivot tables, and view trend analysis.