Rating scales are used in a variety of circumstances across the globe. From work and school to entertainment and Internet—rating scales can be molded to multiple subjects. Creating comparisons through rating scales can provide extremely useful data, but might also have some drawbacks as well.
The largest advantage and purpose of rating scales is the standardization they create. They provide a method to compare different objects, people, or things in a structured fashion---ranging from a quantitative to qualitative analysis.
Rating scales work as a general system; therefore, appraisals and assessments can be created for almost anything by altering a rating scale slightly.
The downside to the ability to apply rating scales to many different things is the drawback of mis-perceiving information. As rating scales are fairly simple to understand, most people don't take the time to read into the criteria-basis which can lead to the mis-perception of any given scale.
In cases of work appraisals---rating scales provide an opportunity for employees to be graded fairly. By providing a system that is fair, equality can be reached in a more successful manner than other systems of comparisons that are more subjective in nature.
The reason rating scales are so prevalent is that they are simple and easy to understand. They provide a significant amount of data and allow people to view it in a very clear and concise manner—making decisions easier. This simplicity and logic has contributed to the popularity of rating scales.
Another common utilization of rating scales is in education. There are so many students and so many educational institutes—ranging from elementary and high schools to colleges and universities—that it becomes extremely useful to judge everyone over a standard scale. Although scales of this nature usually have the obvious drawback---the chosen criteria that must be the basis of the scale, it is still a useful time-saver in education.