Likert Scale

A Likert scale is a widely-used rating system for survey research, consisting of a symmetrical scale of positive and negative responses. For example:
  1. Strongly disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Neither agree nor disagree
  4. Agree
  5. Strongly agree

Likert scales are valuable because they allow researchers to quantify and analyze data that can be difficult to measure, such as attitudes and emotions. There is a very wide variety of coding scales that can be used for this, depending on what exactly is being measured.

In their most traditional form, Likert scales are a 5-point scale, where 1 is the lowest point on the scale, and 5 is the highest point on the scale. Traditionally, a Likert scale is bipolar, meaning that it captures both extremes of an attitude (strongly agree to strongly disagree), and it is an odd-point scale, meaning that it allows for neutral responses. Although the five-item scale is among the most common, Likert scales can have more or fewer items, depending on the needs. For example, a three-item scale would eliminate the need for respondents to report the degree to which they agree or disagree, while a four-item Likert scale would eliminate the Neutral option, forcing an opinion to be either positive or negative. By removing the neutral point from the scale, respondents are forced to provide a positive or negative response, which can help clients understand the directionality of their results without ambiguity. However, this also comes with the obvious trade-off of forcing “true” neutral respondents to provide a response that doesn’t reflect their real-life attitudes.

Examples:

  • Here is an example of a traditional Likert scale. It has 5 points, has an equal number of options for positive and negative points in the scale (i.e. is a bipolar scale), and has contains a neutral option.

    Likert Scale
  • This is an example of a 5-point unipolar scale. While it has 5 points, it’s only measuring the magnitude of one variable, Interest. Thus, there is no negative point on the scale, and it is a unipolar scale. There is no true neutral option, but “Somewhat interested” serves as the middle point between the highest level of interest and the lowest level of interest.

    Likert Scale