HI: I know there are couple of questions relating to comparing the same survey item with differing numbers of response categories, but I did not see a question that dealt specifically with this issue.

Namely, I want to compare the dispersion of two sets of survey responses on 12 items per survey. The items on Survey 1 use a 6 point Strongly agree- Strongly Disagree scale, while the items on Survey 2 use a 4 point Strongly agree to Strongly disagree scale.

My gut tells me that I cannot use standard deviations to make this comparison to assess dispersion from the mean. Just by virtue of the fact that Survey 1 provides more categories, it should have more dispersion. Could I convert both items to z-scores to compare the dispersion? Or should I try to rescale the responses? If so, should I rescale from 1-6 to 1-4 or go the other way?

This is not for peer-reviewed research at the moment; I have the working hypothesis that the context in which survey 1 was administered is marked by greater disagreement on the items that are measured while there is less conflict and more agreement in the context in which survey 2 was administered.

I guess another option would be to compare the percentage of respondents who picked the most extreme options.

Thank you for your suggestions.

Thanks, Simon


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.