Is 7 the new 5?

Our experience-rating system is broken. Here's how.


(Tenaya Tremp)

By Sam Jefferson

Think about the last meal you had. How was it? Did it fill you up? Did you leave the dinner table satisfied? Was the bread stale? Maybe vegetable soup was not the right call last night. How did the meal make you feel? 

In your head, I’d like you to rate this meal on a scale from 1 to 10. I’ll give you a second to think about it.

My guess is that if enjoyed your meal you rated it an 8, and if you disliked your meal but didn’t hate it you rated it a 6. Both of these are common mistakes students make when asked to rate something. Just think about it, on a 1-to-10 scale 5 is in the middle, making it the standard, right? So why on earth would you rate something you disliked a 6? A 6 would put this dinner, breakfast, brunch, or whatever your meal was, in the top 40 percent of meals you’ve ever had in your entire life, assuming you’re comparing this meal to previous ones, which I am. 

A 6 is all you should really ask for in a meal (unless you’re going to Chick-fil-A). An above average meal is a good thing, and a 6 should not be seen as a poor rating. 

If you fell into the trap of rating your meal a 6, do not fret — this is something many people do. You see, when someone asks you to rate something from 1 to 10, it is easy to make the mistake of considering 7 the average on the scale. This problem probably comes from our grading system: You have F, then D, C, B, and finally, A. In this listing of grades C would be the average, and a C is a 7/10.  This is why the 1-to-10 scale has been wrongly used for God knows how long. This isn’t how it should be. We need to learn and make an effort to bring the average back to a 5. It makes the 1-to-10 scale one of the best ways to gauge how much someone likes something. 

Recently, I had a refreshing moment in math class. I asked one of my buddies in the class to rate their day, and she responded, “Umm … so far I’d give it a 3.” I felt horrible for my friend, but she reassured me that it wasn’t that bad of a day, she was just bored in math class and had a crappy breakfast. I thought to myself, this person knows what’s up. A 3/10 day is bad, it’s in your bottom 30 percent of days, but we all probably have those once a week. It’s not something to panic about, which my friend made sure I knew. I want people to be more like my friend, and rate their days and food truthfully.

I very well might be a psychopath, but at least I’m a psychopath who knows that a 6/10 meal is nothing to complain about.