In the market research industry, there are two common ways to share survey results. One of them is average scores and the other is box scores. Researchers use the term box score so often that we rarely notice we’re doing it and that not everyone know what they’re all about. So here is your guide to what they are and why we use them!
Let’s dissect a survey question. Most surveys use 5 or 7 point scales that look like this – a question followed by 5 (or 7) answer options.
What is your opinion about chocolate?
After 100 people have answered the survey, we might find that 40 people chose Love, 20 chose Like, 20 chose Neutral, 10 chose Dislike, and 10 chose Hate.
When researchers report the results of this survey, they have two options.
1) They could assign numbers to each answer option and generate an average score. For instance, Love=5, Like=4, Neutral=3, Dislike=2, and Hate=1. An average score with this data would give us a result of 3.7 out of 5. This is the average score.
2) They could calculate the percentage of responses to each option. For instance, 40% of responses were Love, 20% were Like, 20% were Neutral, 10% were Dislike, and 10% were hate. These are box scores!
But tell me, what does 3.7 out of 5 really mean? Is there an intuitive meaning behind 3.7? Do you have a gut feeling for 3.7? On the other hand, what does 40% mean? Do you have a gut feeling for 40%? In which case could you talk to someone not involved in your research and know that they understand what the number means?
This is why I prefer box scores. Someone may not understand what you’re talking about when you say that 3.7 is the average opinion about chocolate but chances are that they’ll know exactly what you mean when you say 40% of people love chocolate and 10% of people hate chocolate. Easy peasy!
Box scores are commonly expressed in a few ways.
|Top Box||The percentage of people who answered the most positive option, whether it’s Strongly Agree, Extremely Important, Love|
|Bottom Box||The percentage of people who answered the most negative option, whether it’s Strongly Disagree, Extremely Unimportant, Hate|
|Top 2 Box||The percentage of people who answered the two most positive options – [Love+Like], [Strongly Agree + Somewhat Agree]|
|Bottom 2 Box||The percentage of people who answered the two most positive options – [Hate+Dislike], [Strongly disagree + Somewhat Disagree]|
Given that the best research is the easy to understand research, the best research study uses box scores.