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Balanced Scale

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Balanced Scale

A balanced scale refers to an ordinal question asked to the respondents of a piece of research. It is mainly used in quantitative market research questionnaires and surveys.

A balanced scale question is one which asks individuals to answer a question based on a given scale. For example when using a balanced scale, if a researcher asked an individual about their experience at a given place, they could answer with one of the statements on the balanced scale given below:


Balanced Scales Market Research








There are two aspects of a scale question that must be in place for it to be defined as a balanced scale question; the positive and negative categories must be equal, and there must be a mid-point between the two categories.  These are important because if the scale is unevenly weighted or missing a mid-value respondents may feel forced into making a decision that they do not want to make (this can happen consciously or sub-consciously). Both these aspects highlight that balanced scale questions must be clear and simple; if they are unbalanced in any way they could alienate respondents or provide inaccurate or misleading data.

The common argument around balanced questions is that of what scale to use. It is often misunderstood that the higher the resolution (more categories) of the scale the more reliable the results, however this is not the case. The categories have to be distinctive enough to be able to choose between them, but not too far apart from one another in that respondents would rather choose an option (that isn’t available) between the two.Therefore there is a fine line that needs to be met between too few and too many category choices.

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