Volume 11 Issue 1 (2015)
Research Design

Exploring Slider vs. Categorical Response Formats in Web-Based Surveys

Catherine A. Roster
University of New Mexico
Lorenzo Lucianetti
University of Chieti & Pescara
Gerald Albaum
University of New Mexico
Published July 9, 2015
  • Web-based survey,
  • response format,
  • categorical scale,
  • visual analog scale


Web-based surveys have become a common mode of data collection for researchers in many fields, but there are many methodological questions that need to be answered. This article examines one such question—do the use of sliders to express numerical amounts and the use of the more traditional radio-button scales give the same, or different, measurements? First, we review the central debates surrounding the use of slider scales, including advantages and disadvantages. Second, we report findings from a controlled simple randomized design field experiment using a sample of business managers in Italy to compare the two response formats. Measures of topic sensitivity, topic interest, and likelihood of participation were obtained. No statistically significant differences were found between the response formats. The article concludes with suggestions for researchers who wish to use slider scales as a measurement device.