The Likert Scale: Advantages and Disadvantages
Posted by Nicole LaMarca
The Likert Scale is an ordinal psychometric measurement of attitudes, beliefs and opinions. In each question, a statement is presented in which a respondent must indicate a degree of agreement or disagreement in a multiple choice type format.
The advantageous side of the Likert Scale is that they are the most universal method for survey collection, therefore they are easily understood. The responses are easily quantifiable and subjective to computation of some mathematical analysis. Since it does not require the participant to provide a simple and concrete yes or no answer, it does not force the participant to take a stand on a particular topic, but allows them to respond in a degree of agreement; this makes question answering easier on the respondent. Also, the responses presented accommodate neutral or undecided feelings of participants. These responses are very easy to code when accumulating data since a single number represents the participant’s response. Likert surveys are also quick, efficient and inexpensive methods for data collection. They have high versatility and can be sent out through mail, over the internet, or given in person.
Attitudes of the population for one particular item in reality exist on a vast, multi-dimensional continuum. However, the Likert Scale is uni-dimensional and only gives 5-7 options of choice, and the space between each choice cannot possibly be equidistant. Therefore, it fails to measure the true attitudes of respondents. Also, it is not unlikely that peoples’ answers will be influences by previous questions, or will heavily concentrate on one response side (agree/disagree). Frequently, people avoid choosing the “extremes” options on the scale, because of the negative implications involved with “extremists”, even if an extreme choice would be the most accurate.
Graph Comparing Different Psychometric Measures:
Sample of a “Typical” Likert Scale Measurement:
Likert, R. (1932). A technique for the measurement of attitudes, Archives of Psychology 140.