Does a single response category in a scale completely capture a response?

Madhubalan Viswanathan, Mark Bergen, Shantanu Dutta, Terry Childers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this article is to suggest the application of fuzzy set theory to issues in scale development in marketing by conceptualizing response categories of a scale as fuzzy sets. Respondents' natural responses to scales are argued to have degrees of membership in more than one response category when a response scale does not match natural responses. In contrast to traditional scales, which only allow the choice of a single category as a response, a new scale, which allows responses with degrees of membership in more than one response category, is developed. This scale is used in an expository study conducted to demonstrate implications of the conceptualization for issues in scale development. Specifically, norms are suggested for use in evaluating traditional scales during scale development in terms of the optimal number of response categories and appropriate category descriptors. Implications of this methodology for marketers are discussed relating to the use of the proposed methodology in (a) the development of response scales, (b) the development of questions/items in questionnaire design, and (c) the measurement of phenomena that are inherently imprecise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-479
Number of pages23
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing


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