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Likert Scale Definition, Examples and Analysis

By Saul McLeod, updated


What is a Likert Scale?

Various kinds of rating scales have been developed to measure attitudes directly (i.e. the person knows their attitude is being studied).  The most widely used is the Likert scale (1932).

In its final form, the Likert scale is a five (or seven) point scale which is used to allow the individual to express how much they agree or disagree with a particular statement.

For example:

I believe that ecological questions are the most important issues facing human beings today.

likert scale agreement

A Likert scale assumes that the strength/intensity of an attitude is linear, i.e. on a continuum from strongly agree to strongly disagree, and makes the assumption that attitudes can be measured.

For example, each of the five (or seven) responses would have a numerical value which would be used to measure the attitude under investigation.


>Likert Scale Examples for Surveys

In addition to measuring statements of agreement, Likert scales can measure other variations such as frequency, quality, importance, and likelihood, etc.

  • Agreement
  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Undecided
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree
  • Frequency
  • Always
  • Often
  • Sometimes
  • Rarely
  • Never
  • Importance
  • Very Important
  • Important
  • Moderately Important
  • Slightly Important
  • Unimportant
  • Quality
  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor
  • Very Poor
  • Likelihood
  • Almost Always True
  • Usually True
  • Occasionally True
  • Usually Not True
  • Almost Never True
  • Likelihood
  • Definitely
  • Probably
  • Possibly
  • Probably Not
  • Definitely Not

For a complete table of Likert scale examples click here.


How can you analyze data from a Likert scale?

The response categories in Likert scales have a rank order, but the intervals between values cannot be presumed equal.

Therefore, the mean (and standard deviation) are inappropriate for ordinal data (Jamieson, 2004)

Statistics you can use are:

    • Summarize using a median or a mode (not a mean as it is ordinal scale data ); the mode is probably the most suitable for easy interpretation.

    • Display the distribution of observations in a bar chart (it can’t be a histogram, because the data is not continuous).


Critical Evaluation

Strengths

Likert Scales have the advantage that they do not expect a simple yes / no answer from the respondent, but rather allow for degrees of opinion, and even no opinion at all.  Therefore quantitative data is obtained, which means that the data can be analyzed with relative ease.

Offering anonymity on self-administered questionnaires should further reduce social pressure, and thus may likewise reduce social desirability bias.

Paulhus (1984) found that more desirable personality characteristics were reported when people were asked to write their names, addresses and telephone numbers on their questionnaire than when they told not to put identifying information on the questionnaire.

Limitations

However, like all surveys, the validity of the Likert scale attitude measurement can be compromised due to social desirability.

This means that individuals may lie to put themselves in a positive light.  For example, if a Likert scale was measuring discrimination, who would admit to being racist?

References

Bowling, A. (1997). Research Methods in Health. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Burns, N., & Grove, S. K. (1997). The Practice of Nursing Research Conduct, Critique, & Utilization. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders and Co.

Jamieson, S. (2004). Likert scales: how to (ab) use them. Medical Education, 38(12), 1217-1218.

Likert, R. (1932). A Technique for the Measurement of Attitudes. Archives of Psychology, 140, 1–55.

Paulhus, D. L. (1984). Two-component models of socially desirable responding. Journal of personality and social psychology, 46(3), 598.


How to reference this article:

McLeod, S. A. (2019, Aug 03). Likert scale. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/likert-scale.html

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