A rating scale is a means of quantifying responses to items or questions in a test, survey or questionnaire using a set of categories. These categories may take a number of formats, such as an ordered series of numbers, e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4; a series of descriptions: “strongly disagree”, “disagree”, “agree”, “strongly agree” or a combination of the two. It is also possible to have a rating scale consisting of a series of numbers with two qualitative descriptors (known as “anchors”), one at each extreme. Where qualitative descriptors only are used these will be assigned a numerical value for scoring purposes. There are no limits to how many categories can be included in a rating scale, but for practical purposes scales with 4, 5, 7 and 10 categories are commonly used. Responses to rating scales for a number of test items may be summed to produce sub-total (“domain”) or overall scores. In the latter case this is known as a Likert scale. The majority of rating scales are ordinal: although the categories increase monotonically, the distances between each category cannot be assumed to be equal. For example, if “disagree” is assigned the value 2, “agree” a 3 and “strongly agree” a 4, the difference between “strongly agree” and “agree” cannot be assumed to be the same as the difference between “agree” and “disagree”.

How to cite: Rating Scale [online]. (2016). York; York Health Economics Consortium; 2016. https://www.yhec.co.uk/glossary/rating-scale/

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