Semantic Differential Scales

Semantic Differential Scale is a survey or questionnaire rating scale that asks people to rate a product, company, brand or any “entity” within the frames of a multi-point rating options. These survey answering options are grammatically on opposite adjectives at each end. For example, love / hate, satisfied / unsatisfied and likely to return / unlikely to return with intermediate options in between.

Surveys or questionnaires using Semantic Differential Scale is the most reliable way to get information on people’s emotional attitude towards a topic of interest.

Charles Egerton Osgood, a famous American psychologist, invented the semantic differential scale so that this “connotative meaning” of emotional attitude towards entities can be recorded and put to good use.

This research was conducted on a large database and Osgood found that there are 3 scales that were commonly effective, irrespective of race or culture or difference in language:

  • Estimate: Combination similar to “good-bad
  • Authority: Pairs on the lines of “powerful-weak
  • Activeness: Combos like “active-passive

A wide variation of subjects can be measured using these combinations like customers’ outlook about an upcoming product launch or employee satisfaction.

Where to use Semantic Differential Scale?

The ease-of-understanding and the popularity it comes with it, makes it extremely reliable. Due to the versatility that these survey questions come with, make the data collected very accurate.

Semantic differential scale questions are used to ask respondents to rate your products, organization or services with multi-point questions with polar adjectives at the extremes of this scale like likely/ unlikely, happy/sad, loved the service/ hated the service.

Advantages of Semantic Differential Scale

  1. Semantic Differential Scale has outdone the other scales like Likert Scale in terms of vitality, rationality or authenticity.
  2. It has an advantage in terms of language too. There are two polar adjectives for the factor to be measured and a scale connecting both these polar.
  3. This is more advantageous than Likert scale where a statement is declared in the statement under question and the respondents are expected to either agree or disagree to that.
  4. Respondents can express their opinions about the matter in hand more specifically and fully due to the polar options provided in the Semantic Differential Scale questions.
  5. In other question types like the Likert Scale, respondents have to be indicate the level of agreement or disagreement they have with the mentioned topic.

While, the Semantic differential scale offers extremely opposite adjectives on each end of the scale due to which the respondents can precisely explain their feedback that can be used for making accurate judgments from the survey.

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