Definition: The Ordinal Scale is a rank order scale in which the numbers are assigned to the objects to determine the relative extent to which certain characteristic is possessed. It helps in identifying that whether the object has more or less of a characteristic as compared to another object, but does not tell about how much or less the characteristic is.
The Ordinal Scale tells about the relative position of the object and not the magnitude of differences between the objects. Thus, we can say that ordinal scale possesses description and order characteristics and not the distance (origin). Description means the unique labels used to designate the values of the scale, while the order refers to the relative position of the descriptors. By Distance (origin), we mean that a scale has a unique, fixed beginning, or a true zero point.
The most common examples of the ordinal scale are quality rankings, occupational status, ranking of teams in tournaments, rank-order of winners, etc. In marketing research, these scales are used to measure the relative opinions, attitudes, perceptions, and preferences. Such as, if the respondents are asked to rank the most admired companies in India, then they rank the companies on the basis of their preferences and the company ranked first often has more of characteristic as compared to the company placed in the second position.
In the case of an ordinal scale, the equivalent objects are assigned the same rank. Any series of numbers can be assigned to the objects provided it preserves the ordered relationship between the objects. Thus, in the ordinal scale, it is the order that matters and not the relative degree of differences between the objects.