How to Use Response Scales in Question Writing

  • 19 March 2021
  • 0 replies

How to Use Grid Questions


A number of the scales we recommend are skewed positively or negatively.  (This means there are more positive or negative points rather than a symmetrical number.) We often skew scales on quality, problems, frequency and importance scales but not on support/favor questions. We create these skewed scales because we are countering social desirability bias (tendency to give more positive or negative responses that are socially acceptable) and/or want to make sure the scale is sensitive enough to capture full sentiment.  (If every item in a list is considered minimally important, it does not make sense to provide 2 points on how unimportant an item is.) 


You’ll want to consider using these scales when creating grid questions on Polco. 


The use of “Don’t Know” as a response is not listed in these scales, but please consider adding this option at the end if you are asking a question where the respondent really could not know. 


Quality scales: good for evaluating services or community characteristics

  • Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor

  • Very good, Good, Neither good nor bad, Bad, Very Bad

  • Very well, Somewhat well, Somewhat poorly, Very poorly

  • Very satisfied, Somewhat satisfied, Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, Somewhat dissatisfied, Very dissatisfied


Problem scales: good for identifying concerns not sufficiently addressed by service delivery

  • Major problem, Moderate problem, Minor problem, Not a problem

  • Large problem, Small problem, Not a problem at all

  • Major concern, Moderate concern, Minor concern, Not a concern


Change scales: good for estimating impacts of programs, interventions

  • Much better, A little better, About the same, A little worse, A lot worse

  • Much better, A little better, No change, A little worse, Much worse


Amount scales: good for estimating consumption or use  (consider a "Don’t know" response option here)

  • Too much, About right, Too little

  • Too many, About right, Too few

  • A great deal, Quite a bit, Some, Not too much, Very little

  • None, A few, Some, Most, All

  • None, A little, A lot

  • Far too much/many, Somewhat too much/many, Right amount, Somewhat too little/few, Far too little/few


Importance scales: good for determining resident values

  • Essential, Very important, Somewhat important, Not important

  • Extremely important, Very important, Somewhat important, Not at all important

  • Very important, Moderately important, Slightly important, Not important


Frequency scales: good for estimating use of services (if you are asking a series of questions using a grid format, make sure the frequencies make sense. 

Some types of activities make sense on a weekly level while others make sense on a monthly or annual level.)


  • Never, Sometimes, Usually, Always

  • Never, Almost never, Sometimes, Almost always, Always

  • Never, Seldom, Sometimes, Almost always, Always 

  • Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Frequently, Always


  • Never, Once or twice, More than twice

  • Not at all, 1 time, 2 times, 3 or more times 

 [times a year]

  • Never, Once a year, Once a month, Once a week, Every day

 [times a month]

  • Never, One or two times a month, About once a week, A few times a week, Every day

  • Never, 1 to 12 times, 13 to 25 times, 26+ times


Likelihood scales: good for projecting use of services not yet offered (consider a "Don’t know" response option here)

  • Very likely, Somewhat likely, Somewhat unlikely, Very unlikely

  • Very likely, Likely, Unlikely, Very unlikely

  • Definitely will, Probably will, Probably not, Definitely not

  • Definitely would, Probably would, Not sure, Probably would not, Definitely would not


“Polar” scales: good for determining policy options (consider a "Don't know" response option here)

  • Strongly support, Support, Neither support nor oppose, Oppose, Strongly oppose

  • Strongly support, Somewhat support, Somewhat oppose, Strongly oppose

  • High priority, Medium priority, Low priority, Not a priority,

  • Support/Oppose 

  • Strongly favor, Favor, Neither support nor oppose, Oppose, Strongly oppose 

  • Strongly favor, Somewhat favor, Somewhat oppose, Strongly oppose


Agree/Disagree: good if no better questions, as these require a positively or negatively skewed stem/list of items. (consider a "Don’t know" response option here)

  • Strongly agree, Agree, Neither agree nor disagree, Disagree, Strongly disagree 

  • Strongly agree, Somewhat agree, Somewhat disagree, Strongly disagree



0 replies

Be the first to reply!