Likert scale & surveys – best practices – 2

November 27, 2011 at 2:07 pm 3 comments

i’ve written previously about the Likert scale and surveys – and received literally 100s of enquiries about it. A reader has now  pointed me towards this excellent article on survey questions and Likert scales that adds some interesting points to the discussion.

From my previous post, I listed the following best practices on using the Likert Scale in survey questions:

  • More than seven points on a scale are too much.
  • Numbered scales are difficult for people
  • Labelled scales need to be as accurate as possible

And here are some further points to add drawn from this article:

  • Be careful with the choice of words for labels:

“Occasionally” has been found to be very different than “seldom” but relatively close in meaning to “sometimes” (quote from article)

  • Include a “don’t know” if for a point where people may simply not have an opinion:

“Providing a “don’t know” choice significantly reduced the number of meaningless responses.”

  • People will respond more often to those items on the left hand side of the scale:

“There is evidence of a bias towards the left side of the scale”

On that last point, I always write my scales left to right – bad to good… This means that people may tend to select more easily the “bad” ratings. I haven’t found that to be the case (respondents often seem to be over-positive in their ratings I feel), but I stand corrected…

View the full article here>>

Entry filed under: Evaluation methodology, Evaluation tools (surveys, interviews..). Tags: .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Char Psi Tutor MentorUni  |  November 29, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Thanks for the update and link. I live in FNQ Australia, we have high illiteracy levels and high density of visual cultures (Indigenous Australian and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Pacific Islanders, Bhutanese and Mong as well as North-East African immigrants~ I am researching the use of visual Likert scales to enable these populations to participate in community surveys.

    Shades of grey may be helpful, light to dark and I saw one with size increases of bars.

    Reply
    • 2. Caolan  |  December 7, 2011 at 11:35 am

      Char Psi – I have previously worked with highly illiterate people and have found the size increase of bars works well, as does smiley faces. The bigger the smile, the happier. Or the bigger the frown, the more disatisfied.

      Reply
      • 3. Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor)  |  December 7, 2011 at 9:00 pm

        Thanks Caolan~ the feedback boosts my confidence in using them ~:-)

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