Let’s assume you have a scale that measures a variable “hotness” on a scale of 1 to 5. According to most people’s intuition, 1 is less hot, and 5 is very hot. A shorter column in a graph means less hotness, a longer one means more hotness. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Now, look at all your scales and all the graphs you created. Do they ALL make sense?

Sometimes, because of the way you laid out your answers in Qualtrics and because of the way Qualtrics assigns values to answers, you may end up with a reverse scale that is very confusing.

In the examples below, the scales are very confusing. In a culture that reads left to right, were things increase from left to right and from bottom to the top, the image below means that the actual difficulty was higher than the expected difficulty – but that’s not what the authors mean!

Similarly, when you look at the column graph below, you’d think the blue one indicates more difficulty, and the red, less. Alas, that’s not true…

Solution: Flip the scale!

For this measure, go into Excel, replace 5 with 1, 4 with 2, draw the graphs again, and voila! – they make sense.

In usability principles, this falls under consistency and standards – use accepted standards in your interface.

Please make sure to check your scales and graphs, make sure they make sense – in the generally accepted way in American culture.

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