Whether you’ve heard of the Likert Scale or not, it’s likely you’ve come across it when you’ve completed or designed surveys. The scale measures reactions or opinions and provides a list of responses that the respondent must select from.
This article will outline the pros and cons of using the Likert Scale in your current or future surveys and, specifically, what you should consider when deciding whether to include it.
The Likert Scale, developed in 1932 by Rensis Likert, was originally created to measure attitudes. The close-ended scale is designed to measure how much a respondent agrees or disagrees with a given statement or question and encourages choice rather than giving the option for the respondent to add different responses.
The quantitative results provide respondent opinions and should be easy to analyse. Typically, the Likert Scale uses a scale of five to seven responses to a question, but this can vary and may be influenced by each question.
The Likert Scale, commonly used in social science research, allows respondents to self-report the extent of their agreement or disagreement with given questions. Because the responses are fixed, the data should be quicker and easier to analyse than information from open-ended, qualitative survey questions.
Although questions with simple yes or no responses give basic data, they do not provide subtle differences in opinion. By providing a variety of answers, the Likert Scale gives further detail, which is why it’s used often in psychological research.
For instance, it can be used to measure opinions about a person in employee 360-degree feedback, so if a manager wants to understand more about an individual’s time management skills, for example, they might ask a question on a satisfaction scale:
Overall, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with their ability to deliver work on time?
To gain high response rates to surveys, questions with only five options should be quick and easy to respond to, for example:
I use the new online shopping product:
Or if these responses aren’t specific enough, you could follow up or replace them with different responses to the same statement:
For example, if you are gathering feedback about an event and you ask:
I found the event useful and informative:
This is clearly leading respondents to give positive feedback as there is no option for a dissatisfied response! Therefore, more suitable responses might be:
One way to potentially avoid this issue is to make the survey anonymous, but this will depend on your survey objectives.
Whether you’re designing a survey with a mix of open and closed questions or just closed questions, the Likert Scale may have a place in your survey. Not only can Likert Scale questions dig deep into specific areas, but they also provide data that should be quick and straightforward to analyse. However, like any measurement method, the Likert scale has advantages and disadvantages. So, before you include the Likert Scale, ensure you understand the objective of your survey to decide whether it would be suitable and carefully plan the question responses.
If you would like any help designing or carrying out a survey, we can provide you with templates and questionnaire examples, whoever your audience.
Why is a Likert Scale better than a yes/no question?
By giving respondents the opportunity to respond along a Likert Scale, you gain more insight into how deeply they feel about a topic, or how regularly they undertake an action. You also have the opportunity to see who sits neutrally when presented with a question. This insight can be valuable in understanding your respondents’ habits, feelings and needs.
What are the key benefits of using Likert Scale questions?
What are the key disadvantages of using Likert Scale questions?