Info - Project VQS

Verbal qualifiers for rating scales: A cross-cultural psychometric study

Bernd ROHRMANN (University of Melbourne)

= Project overview=

This project deals with the socio-linguistic and psychometric properties of verbal scale point labels (VSPL) used in rating scales, looking at 5 VSPL types, i.e., words/expressions for Frequency (e.g.: often, rarely), Intensity (e.g., very, quite), Probability (e.g., certain, unlikely), Quality (e.g., good, poor), Response to statements (e.g., agree, disagree). It consisted of 3 studies:
[VQS-1] Crafting verbally qualified rating scales - German language,
[VQS-2] Composing and testing English verbalized rating scales (conducted in Australia),
[VQS-3] Creating rating scales in Chinese language and analyze Chinese-English language linkages.

= Methodology & results =

In all three projects, Phase 1 was to create a pool of words/expressions which have been used or could be used as VSPLs in rating scales. Out of these, about 100, i.e., 20 per type of scale, were investigated.
In Phase 2, experiments were conducted to analyze them.  In VSQ-2, in addition to category scaling a magnitude scaling procedure was utilized. The category scaling tasks included allocation of words to numbers (WN) and numbers to words (NW); the magnitude estimations were based on two modalities, numbers (MN) and lines (ML). In order to check context effects, the VSPLs were presented in 3 different contexts: as expressions of Noise annoyance <N> or Job satisfaction <J> or context-free <C>. Furthermore, the familiarity of the investigated words/expressions was measured in VSQ-1 and VSQ-2.
Then in Phase 3 the result were used to create verbalized rating scales.
The final project, VQS-3, was conducted in China,  in collaboration with Prof. Au and Prof. Taylor from the Chinese University of HongKong. This contained a new mission: In Phase 4 it was explored which Chinese and English words/expressions are equivalent as rating scale labels. That requested bi-lingual participants. 

The outcomes from the three VQS projects are massive; to evaluate them requires the comprehension of specific scaling processes. To see selected results which are relevant for the construction of rating scales with 5-points in English language, based on task "NW", click vqs-dat.
For a complete research report of Project VQS-2 click vqs-report. For a report about the HongKong experiments and findings click vqh-report.
Selected pretest findings applied to noise annoyance research can be found in Rohrmann, B. (1998),  "The use of verbal labels in noise annoyance scales"; in: Carter, N. (Ed.), Noise as a public health problem, Sydney: Noise Effects. '98, 523-527. Re VQS-3, a detailed journal article, "Developing equivalent Chinese and English scale point labels for rating scales used in survey research" by W. Au, B. Rohrmann & P. Taylor has been published 2011 in the Asian Journal of Social Psychology (vol 14, 91-111). In January 2015, an integrating report covering all three projects has been prepared; click vqs-projects.pdf.

Project VQS enables the construction of improved response scales for questionnaires/survey research. The core aim is to facilitate the development of scales which maximize data quality as well as communicative virtues. This always was and still is of considerable interest to Social Science. 

= Remaining agenda =

Worthwhile extensions of the VQS project include: Replication of VQS-1 and 2 (the German study from 1978 gets still cited and deserves a retests, as does the study about English rating scales); further cross-language investigations (e.g., English-German) would be valuable; and some kinds of languages (Arabic, Slavic) have so far not at all been considered. A further project in Germany is currently under consideration.

= Contact address =

Prof. Bernd ROHRMANN
Roman Research Road venture, Melbourne, Victoria 3054, AUSTRALIA
E-Mail  mail {at}

BR 20-10-14