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Semantic Scales

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1 Introduction

A is a list of opposite adjectives. It is a method invented by C.E. Osgood (1957) in order to measure the connotative meaning of cultural objects.

Semantic differential scales are used in a variety of social science research but it also is used in marketing and practical, user experience research and therapy. Sometimes semantic differentials are also known as polarities.

See also: Repertory grid technique (a useful technique for eliciting polarities that do exist in peoples mind) and Usability and user experience surveys (another example of survey research).

3 Analysis

The average score for each word defines a sort of "correlation" between the word and the object being tested.

In simple market analysis, the average score for the whole scale defines the overall quality of the object being tested. Of course, that only works if the scale's items represent negative/positive). In this sense it is used like a Likert scale.

In Osgood's original research, factor analysis showed the emergence of three underlying components that have been named: Evaluation, potency and activity (EPA). “The Evaluation dimension is tapped by the “good, nice” versus “bad, awful” scale just mentioned. The Potency dimension corresponds to a scale that contrasts “powerful, big” with “powerless, little.” A scale for assessing the Activity dimension contrasts “fast, noisy, active” with “slow, quiet, inactive.” Pan-cultural multivariate analyses have demonstrated that these EPA dimensions are clearly recognizable in multiple cultures and a variety of languages.” (Heise, 2001).

4.1 Electronic Marketing Quality (EMQ)

Verhagen and Meents (2007:22) identify the following dimensions:

  • Layout
  • Ease of Use
  • Contacting the intermediary
  • Institutional control
  • Community
  • Contacting sellers
  • Seller information
  • Product information
  • Pricing mechanisms
  • Assortment
  • Settlement
  • Meeting sellers

4.2 Onscreen typefaces

Shaikh (2009) used the following differentials with Osgoods classic potency, evaluative and activity dimensions:

  • Potency reflects typefaces that are seen as having strength, power, or force.
  • Evaluative reflects typefaces that are viewed as having value, worth, and importance.
  • Activity reflects typefaces that are considered to be full of energy, movement, and action.
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