The effect of rating scale format on response styles: the number of response categories and response category labels
Questionnaires using Likert-type rating scales are an important source of data in marketing research. Researchers use different rating scale formats with varying numbers of response categories and varying label formats (e.g., 7-point rating scales labeled at the endpoints, fully labeled 5-point scales, etc.) but have few guidelines when selecting a specific format. Drawing from the literature on response styles, we formulate hypotheses on the effect of the labeling of response categories and the number of response categories on the net acquiescence response style, extreme response style and misresponse to reversed items. We test the hypotheses in an online survey (N=1207) with eight experimental conditions and a follow-up study with two experimental conditions (N = 226). We find evidence of strong effects of scale format on response distributions and misresponse to reversed items, and we formulate recommendations on the choice of a scale format.
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