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Unbalanced Scale

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Unbalanced Scale

An unbalanced scale question is the opposite of one which utilises a balanced scale. It is an ordinal question asked to respondents in a piece of market research, commonly of a quantitative nature, and therefore it is usually seen in a questionnaire/survey.

Unbalanced scale questions ask individuals to answer a question based on a given skewed scale. Like the name suggests this scale is unbalanced with there being an uneven number of possible positive/favourable and negative/unfavourable responses. For example when using an unbalanced scale, if a researcher asked an individual about their recent experience of customer support received from an organisation, they could answer with one of the statements on the unbalanced scale given:

Unbalanced Scale Market Research

There is one key point that differs between an unbalanced scale and a balanced scale question. An unbalanced question does not have a mid-point, for example in the table above there is no ‘Neither poor nor fair’ option available.  This can be a risk because respondents may be forced to make a decision that they do not feel comfortable making i.e. they may not feel as if they fit into any of the categories given. Therefore as a researcher you must be very careful when deciding whether to use an unbalanced scale as you do not want to make your respondents work harder than they need to.

Researchers may choose to use an unbalanced scale question when they know their respondents are likely to have preference to one end of a scale as opposed to the other. It is important that researchers take into consideration the use of an unbalanced scale when carrying out data analysis because the results may have a large skew due to the scale given not the true opinion of the respondent.

For more information on unbalanced scales - including their usage in market research projects, please see the entry on 'non-balanced scales' in this glossary.

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