The Likert Scale is a method for measuring attitudes named for its creator, U.S. psychologist Rensis Likert. It is used in questionnaires and, rather than simply capturing whether a respondent believes a statement to be true or false, it also captures the degree of subjective feelings a respondent has toward a particular statement.
The Likert Scale is usually a five-point scale including the options of:
- Strongly Agree
- Strongly Disagree
However, some questionnaires use other models. For example, the Achenbach Behavior Checklist, which is used to measure child behavior, uses a Likert Scale that includes the statements not true, sometimes true, and very true. Virtually any statement can be used with a Likert Scale; the scale is merely a tool for measuring a respondent’s agreement with the statement. Psychologists, doctors, advertisers, researchers, focus groups, and numerous other people interested in subjective analysis may use the scale.
The Likert Scale can be used to assess risk factors, mental illnesses, and a host of other issues. Likert Scales are not always scored, but when they are, the scale is typically broken down into specific categories. A Likert Scale assessing marital satisfaction might include sections including sexual satisfaction, communication, conflict, and other relevant factors. Each section would be assigned a score based on how frequently respondents agreed with positive or negative statements. A researcher could then assign a score assessing overall marital satisfaction.
Criticism of the Likert Scale
Because the Likert Scale measures subjective feelings, results may change depending upon when a person takes the test. A married couple that just had a fight may be far more likely to strongly agree with negative statements than a married couple who just got back from their honeymoon. Further, the Likert Scale does not typically assign different weights to different statements. “My husband hits me frequently” could end up being scored the same as “My husband does not take out the trash.” Thus the scale is best used as one of many tools of assessment and scores may not provide fully accurate information.
- American Psychological Association. APA concise dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.
- Likert Scaling. (n.d.). Likert Scaling. Retrieved from http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/scallik.php
Last Updated: 08-11-2015