Posted by: rayseghers | October 6, 2010

The 7-point survey scale?

I just read an ad for an employee survey company.  (Hey, you’ve got to know what the competition is up to.)  Anyway, their headline was that 5-point survey scales don’t work.  They went on to say:

“Employees who really hate their workplace have quit already. So a 5-point scale survey pool is positively biased – you’ll never get as many people rating a 1 as you will a 5.”

Their solution?  A 7-point scale.  That’s great until someone comes up with a 9-point scale.  Actually, over the years there have been numerous arguments about the number of points that a response scale should have.

But let’s go back to what they actually said.  Their two points are quite valid.  Disgruntled employees may have already left and yes, you almost always get more 5s than 1s. (Though I had a client once that would have killed for that.)  But what does that have to do with a 5-point scale and how does a 7-point scale solve the problem?  In short, it doesn’t.

It is an interesting tactic to make an assertion, throw out some irrelevant facts, and then claim that you have proven your point.  Remember, you can lie with statistics (or without them.)


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