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I am having trouble finding the technical term for a scale used in survey research with opposite values at both ends of the scale. For instance, how can I refer to a scale of the following kind: In your opinion, who is responsible for health care? Government (1) --- (2) --- (3) --- (4) --- (5) Citizens?

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  • $\begingroup$ On a side note, I agree that this is a poorly worded question. You can just as well add "Employers" and/or "Medical providers" and/or "Insurance companies" to the issue, and respondents will be totally lost. $\endgroup$ – StasK Apr 22 '13 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, thanks. Actually, it is not my scale, but found on a paper that I am reviewing. $\endgroup$ – kwela12 Apr 22 '13 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ Then you have something easy to pick upon as a reviewer :). $\endgroup$ – StasK Apr 23 '13 at 0:27
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Your example is a poorly defined scale as it's not clear what the intermediate values mean - a sharing out of responsibility, or an allocation of responsibility to mid-level bodies between Government & the citizenry, or perhaps something else. (Furthermore the question could be interpreted as asking either about an actual or a wished-for state of affairs.) Likert scales are often used in surveys to measure the level of agreement or disagreement with a statement, commonly on a five-point scale from 'Strongly agree', 'Agree', 'Neutral', 'Disagree', 'Strongly agree' - perhaps it's this term you're looking for. If you're asking specifically about scales where only the extremes are labelled, they're called bipolar.

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  • $\begingroup$ Great, thank you. I will go with poorly defined. It is for a paper I am reviewing. $\endgroup$ – kwela12 Apr 22 '13 at 22:24
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Semantic differential might be what you are looking for. To quote the link:

Osgood's semantic differential was designed to measure the connotative meaning of concepts. The respondent is asked to choose where his or her position lies, on a scale between two bipolar adjectives (for example: "Adequate-Inadequate", "Good-Evil" or "Valuable-Worthless").

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  • $\begingroup$ Seems rather strained. The example uses nouns, not adjectives, & surely isn't intended to measure connotative meaning of concepts - it asks a straightforward question. $\endgroup$ – Scortchi - Reinstate Monica Oct 7 '13 at 17:23

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