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The Pocket Universal Methods of Design by Bella Martin, Bruce Hanington

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075 Semantic Differential

A linguistic tool designed to measure people’s attitudes toward a topic, event, object, or activity

• The semantic differential asks respondents to indicate where on a continuum of antonyms a concept is best described (e.g., pleasant—unpleasant).

• The three dimensions to classify concepts are evaluation (e.g., valuable–worthless), potency (e.g., strong–weak), and activity (e.g., active–passive).

• Concepts should be chosen based on research objectives and should be meaningful to respondents.

• Poles should be randomized so that negative and positive connotations don’t always fall on the same side.

• A seven-point scale is preferred because it provides a neutral midpoint, which could indicate apathy, indecisiveness, ...

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