What is a Semantic Differential Scale?

A semantic differential scale is a type of survey question which asks respondents to select a specific rating with the two endpoints of each scale being antonyms. It works much like a 1 to 5, 1 to 7, or 1 to 10 likert scale but instead of "1" being least and "10" being most the numbers are replaced with words opposite one another.

An example of a semantic differential scale is a fast food restaurant asking: "How were the french fries you recently purchased from our restaurant?" One side of the scale would be cold and the other would be hot. In between each word would be radio buttons to allow the participant to lean in one direction or another or select a midpoint.

Interested in learning more? Read below.

What is a Semantic Differential Scale?

Want to learn more about different types of questions and scaling options? You have come to the right market research blog.

It can be maddening determining what type of question is the best option for a survey. Semantic differential scales make for a nice and engaging change up to the typical single response, multiple response, or rating scales. Consider them in your next survey script.

Examples of Semantic Differential Scales

Let's say you want to better understand your brand. You want to understand associations, image, perceptions, and other affiliations with your company brand and mission. If you were to create a semantic differential scale around this, it might look something like this, using these words.

The example above details a basic semantic differential scale for brand perception. Sometimes it is helpful to mix up the positive and negatives on each sides of the scale. Opposite or antonym words are listed on each side as extremes. The respondent selects the appropriate radio button towards which direction they are leaning.

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