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The effect of rating scale format on response styles: the number of response categories and response category labels


  • Weijters, B.
  • Cabooter, E.
  • Schillewaert, N.

    (Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Weijters, B. & Cabooter, E. & Schillewaert, N., 2010. "The effect of rating scale format on response styles: the number of response categories and response category labels," Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School Working Paper Series 2010-07, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School.
  • Handle: RePEc:vlg:vlgwps:2010-07

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    1. Exelmans, Liese & Van den Bulck, Jan, 2016. "Bedtime mobile phone use and sleep in adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 93-101.
    2. Marcella Corduas & Alfonso Piscitelli, 2017. "Modeling university student satisfaction: the case of the humanities and social studies degree programs," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 51(2), pages 617-628, March.
    3. Werner Bönte & Sandro Lombardo & Diemo Urbig, 2016. "Economics meets Psychology:Experimental and self-reported Measures of Individual Competitiveness," Schumpeter Discussion Papers SDP16006, Universitätsbibliothek Wuppertal, University Library.
    4. Kim, Y-S. & Lee, M-J., 2016. "Generalized Difference in Differences for Ordinal Responses with a Varying Number of Categories," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 16/19, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    5. repec:spr:svcbiz:v:11:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11628-016-0319-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Cabooter, Elke & Weijters, Bert & Geuens, Maggie & Vermeir, Iris, 2016. "Scale format effects on response option interpretation and use," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(7), pages 2574-2584.
    7. repec:eee:touman:v:53:y:2016:i:c:p:40-60 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Luciene Eberle & Gabriel Sperandio Milan & Celso Augusto de Matos, 2016. "Antecedents to Customer Retention in a Corporate Context," Brazilian Business Review, Fucape Business School, vol. 13(1), pages 1-23, January.
    9. repec:eee:tefoso:v:124:y:2017:i:c:p:283-294 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:eee:touman:v:59:y:2017:i:c:p:376-384 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Kayser, Maike & Nitzko, Sina & Spiller, Achim, 2013. "Analysis of Differences in Meat Consumption Patterns," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), vol. 16(2).
    12. repec:eee:touman:v:60:y:2017:i:c:p:15-29 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:spr:qualqt:v:51:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s11135-016-0411-5 is not listed on IDEAS

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    Rating scale format; Response styles; Number of response categories; Response category labels;

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