What Is Scale?


A small thin plate that forms the outer covering on fish and reptiles. A similar part covers the wings of butterflies and moths.

In step 1 (item generation), most studies used deductive approaches to generate the initial item pool, whereas only a small minority combined deductive and inductive methods. This limitation may negatively influence the content validity of the resulting scale.


Scale is a ratio that represents the relationship between a dimension on a model or blueprint and the corresponding dimension of an object in real life. We use scales to shrink vast areas of land down to small pieces of paper on a map, and we also use them when architects and machinists need to work with models that would be too large to hold if they were their actual size.

A gradation or series of steps, especially one ascending or descending according to fixed intervals: The scales of justice; the musical scale of do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do.

The scaly covering on fish, reptiles and some other animals, and on the leaves of some plants. A scaly, mineral coating on iron or steel when it is heated to high temperatures. A system of tones used to build melodies and harmonies, with many different scales used in various cultures around the world. A smart presentation can tip the scales in your favor.


Scale is an important concept in a variety of fields. However, ambiguity and confusion remain regarding the various types of scale and their definitions. This is a major obstacle when trying to study patterns and their underlying processes.

For example, a scale used in maps shows the ratio of the size of an object shown on the map to its actual size on the ground. This is especially helpful for bringing large areas of land down to a smaller, more manageable size. It also allows machinists and designers to handle models of objects that would be too big to keep on hand if they were their actual size.

The survey results indicate that the majority of participants found spatial and temporal scales to be important in their work. They also indicated that the Modelling, Geographic, and Cartographic scales were more closely related to remote sensing than the Policy and Operational scales. However, the survey results also revealed that some participants felt that these types of scales had less applicability than other types of scales.


The process of creating a scale involves multiple steps. Some of these steps are theoretical and others involve analyzing data. Some of the problems that can occur during the scale development process include failure to define the construct domain, poor choice of a measurement model, inadequate use of techniques that can help establish validity (e.g., convergent and discriminant validity), inappropriate item redaction, and small sample sizes (e.g., Flight et al., 2011, lost more than 50% of their initial item pool during the validation process).

The polarity of a scale can be either bipolar or unipolar. A bipolar scale uses the two theoretical extremes of a concept, for example, satisfied and dissatisfied. A unipolar scale, on the other hand, only has one theoretical extreme and no neutral midpoint. Choosing the right polarity can have a significant impact on the data quality. For instance, a unipolar scale would be more prone to social desirability bias than a bipolar one.


Many people misunderstand the term “scale.” They use it interchangeably with such concepts as “size” and “proportion,” but they have different meanings in science and practice. This article is designed to help you distinguish between these distinct and important concepts.

The first step in scale development is referred to as item generation, and it can be carried out by either deductive or inductive methods. Deductive methods involve the creation of items based on existing measures. In contrast, inductive methods rely on opinions gathered from the target population via interview-focus group data.

During the second step, often called the theory-building phase, researchers evaluate whether their initial items represent the construct they are trying to measure. This is done by examining inter-item correlations and assessing for content validity. Generally, it is advisable to develop more items than you want to include in your final scale because some of them may be removed during the psychometric analysis. This systematic review found that only a minority of studies considered the opinion of members of the target population when evaluating item content validity.

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