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The 1 To 8 Scale: Why You Shouldn't Use A Three Point Scale (Happy, Neutral, Unhappy)

Market research surveys are designed to gauge the views of respondents. This can be done in many ways including text feedback, numeric scales or emotion ranges:

When asking for feedback, we need to consider how the respondent is best able to give us feedback  in a way that clearly shows their views.

For example, many surveys use a 1 to 5 scale to solicit graded feedback. If the respondent grades at either end of the scale, a 1 or a 5, then their views are clear.

However, if they grade a 3 it is more difficult to determine their exact views. Sure, you could say that they are not bothered either way – but it would be a better result if the respondent would commit themselves further.

The same applies to an emotion scale. For example, you may use Happy, Neutral or Unhappy as the scale.

A respondent selecting Neutral is indicating that they are exactly in the middle. They have no sway towards Happy or Unhappy. But is this how they really feel?

When pressed further, you may find that they are slightly towards the Happy or Unhappy side.

And it gets worse as the volume of respondents increases. The easiest option for respondents might be to answer right in the middle of the scale.

So, a 1 to 5 or an emotion scale may not give the granularity needed to definitely confirm respondent views.  This means that the scale itself becomes the limiting factor in the depth of information gleaned.

How do you overcome this?

Well, you need to use a scale that forces the respondent to fall one side of the line or the other. A scale that doesn’t have an easy get out option – no middle option.

If you use a 1 to 8 scale, it gives a wider degree of options and enables you to analyse movement of views over time (0r demographic criteria).

Here is an example:

Now the respondent has to think about exactly where on the scale their view best fits.


To gather the maximum information from respondents, the best scale of answers must be used. It must give a granular scale that shows clearly the views of the respondents.

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