Likert scale

Rensis Likert (1932) developed a direct measure of attitudes called the Likert Scale. A Likert Scale adds up responses to statements representative of a particular attitude.

A Likert Scale is often used in survey design to get around the problem of obtaining meaningful quantitative answers to restricted closed questions. A Likert scale is recognisable when you are asked to indicate your strength of feeling about a particular issue on a 1-5 rating scale. Using a Likert Scale with closed questions generates statistical measurements of people’s attitudes and opinions.

For example, if a social psychologist were interested in attitudes towards euthanasia, a list of say 30 statements relevant to the topic would be made up. 15 would be favourable, and 15, unfavourable. Participants would then rate each statement on a five, or (more accurately) seven-point scale as follows:

Image depicting Likert Scale

Likert Scale: Click to enlarge

A person’s attitude is the summed score from each question. If you use a Likert Scale you will have given each cell a value from 1-5, 5-1, 1-7 or 7-1. In the above Likert Scale example Strongly agree has a value of 7, Agree, 6, Agree somewhat 5, Undecided 4, Disagree somewhat 3, Disagree 2 and Strongly disagree 1. You would add up what value is associated with each of our 30 respondents answers to a particular question.

In the above a high score would indicate a favourable attitude to euthanasia, and a low score an unfavourable attitude. The advantages of a Likert scale are obvious – they are ‘easy’ to construct, administer and score. See the Semantic Differential Scale.

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