Likert Scale & surveys – more discussion..

October 30, 2009 at 8:12 am 1 comment

I’m currently in Brussels for some evaluation training with Gellis Communications and in our discussions the use of Likert Scale in surveys. As I’ve written about before, the Likert scale (named after its creator pictured above) is widely used response scale in surveys. My earlier post spoke about the importance of labelling points on the scales and not to use too many points (most people can’t place their opinion on a scale of more than seven). Here are several other issues that have come up recently:

To use an even or odd scale: there is an ongoing debate on the Likert scale as to whether you should use an odd (five point for example) or even (four point for example).  Some advocate and odd scale where respondents can have a “neutral” middle point whereas others prefer to “force” people to select a negative or positive position with an even scale (e.g four points). In addition, the use of a “don’t know” option is inconclusive.  I personally believe that a “don’t know” option is essential on some scales where people may simply not have an opinion.  However, studies are inconclusive if such an option increases accuracy of responses.

Left to right or right to left: I always advocate displaying scales from the negative to the positive, left to right. It seems more logic to me and some automated survey software mark your answers and calculate the responses for graphs on this basis, e.g. that the first point is the lowest. But I’ve had heard others argue that it should be the opposite way around – put positive to negative, left to right – as people will click on the first point by default in online surveys – which I personally don’t believe.  I’ve not yet found any academic reference supporting either way but looking at all examples in academic articles, 95% are written as negative to positive, left to right – some evidence in itself!

Mr Likert you have a lot to answer for!



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

Online training course on M&E Evaluating online communication tools

1 Comment Add your own

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,160 other subscribers



%d bloggers like this: