It seems like we suck at using scales "from one to ten". Video game reviews nearly always give a 7-10 rating. Competitions with scores from judges seem to always give numbers between eight and ten, unless you crash or fall, and get a five or six. If I tell someone my mood is a 5/10, they seem to think I'm having a bad day. That is, we seem to compress things into the last few numbers of the scale. Does anybody know why this happens? Possible explanations that come to mind include:

  • People are scoring with reference to the high end, where "no

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People are thinking in terms of grades

That's not an explanation, just a symptom of the problem. People of mediocre talent and high talent both get A - that's part of the reason why we have to use standardized tests with a higher ceiling.

My intuition is that the top few notches are satisficing, whereas all lower ratings are varying degrees of non-satisficing. The degree to which everything tends to cluster at the top represents the degree to which everything is satisfactory for practical purposes. In situations where the majority of the rated things are ... (Read more)(Click to expand thread. ⌘F to Expand All)Cmd/Ctrl F to expand all comments on this post

3hyporational5y In medicine we try to make people rate their symptoms, like pain, from one to ten. It's pretty much never under 5. Of course there's a selection effect and people don't like to look like whiners but I'm not convinced these fully explain the situation. In Finland the lowest grade you can get from primary education to high school is 4 so that probably affects the situation too.
4Ixiel5y This is exactly why in my family we use +2/-2. 0 really does feel like average in a way 5-6/10 or 3/5 doesn't.

Stupid Questions December 2014

by Gondolinian 5y8th Dec 20141 min read342 comments


This thread is for asking any questions that might seem obvious, tangential, silly or what-have-you. Don't be shy, everyone has holes in their knowledge, though the fewer and the smaller we can make them, the better.

Please be respectful of other people's admitting ignorance and don't mock them for it, as they're doing a noble thing.

To any future monthly posters of SQ threads, please remember to add the "stupid_questions" tag.