Notice: the WebSM website has not been updated since the beginning of 2018.

Web Survey Bibliography

Title Formal features of rating scales and their interpretation of question meaning
Year 1998
Access date 30.04.2013

The article focuses on the features of rating scales and the interpretation of the question meaning of importance to public opinion surveys. Previous research demonstrated that respondents' interpretation of vague quantifiers depends on the content domain and respondents' previous experiences. In addition, however, respondents may draw on contextual information provided by the questionnaire to disambiguate the meaning of ill-defined terms. The findings of this study support the general proposal that respondents draw on formal features of questionnaire design, such as the numeric values or graphical layout of rating scales, to determine the meaning the researcher has in mind. In doing so, they apply the tacit assumptions that underlie the conduct of conversation in daily life to the survey situation. These assumptions entail that every contribution is relevant to the ongoing conversation, unless marked otherwise. In a research situation, the researcher's contributions include apparently formal features of the questionnaire.

Access/Direct link

Homepage (Abstract)/ (Full text)

Year of publication1998
Bibliographic typeJournal article
Full text availabilityFurther details