Definition Ordinal scale

Ordinal scales permit us to establish a hierarchy (better/worse, bigger/smaller, etc.) using rank values. In terms of levels of measurement, ordinal scales come in above the nominal scale. As for location parameters, mode and median can be identified. Within an ordinal scale we cannot calculate an average (or arithmetic mean).

An example: a survey asks about consumer behavior regarding different flavors of ice cream. Given the options strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla, respondents must indicate whether they like each flavor (1) not at all, (2) not very, (3) quite like or (4) very much. Looking at the results of the survey, it is possible to calculate whether strawberry ice cream is more popular than vanilla. However, we cannot establish the extent/degree to which strawberry ice cream is preferred.

Please note that the definitions in our statistics encyclopedia are simplified explanations of terms. Our goal is to make the definitions accessible for a broad audience; thus it is possible that some definitions do not adhere entirely to scientific standards.