Rating scales: Numeric values may change the meaning of scale labels

Three experiments with 1,155 Ss examined whether the numeric values provided as part of a rating scale may influence respondents' interpretation of the endpoint labels. In Exp 1, Ss rated their success in life on an 11-point scale. When the scale ranged from 0 to 10, 34% of the Ss endorsed values between 0 and 5. However, only 13% endorsed values between -5 and 0 when the scale ranged from -5 to +5. Exp 2 provided a replication of this finding, and Exp 3 demonstrated that recipients of a respondent's report draw different inferences from formally equivalent but numerically different values. Findings indicate that respondents use the numeric values to disambiguate the meaning of the scale labels. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)