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What Is a Likert Scale?

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Definition:

A Likert Scale is a type of psychometric scale frequently used in psychology questionnaires. It was developed by and named after organizational psychologist Rensis Likert.

On a survey or questionnaire, a typical Likert item usually takes the following format:

  1. Strongly disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Neither agree nor disagree
  4. Agree
  5. Strongly agree

It is important to note that the individual questions that take this format are known as Likert items, while the Likert scale is the sum of several of these items.

Creating Items to Use in a Likert Scale

In some cases, experts who are very knowledgeable about the subject matter might develop items on their own. Oftentimes, it is helpful to have a group of experts help brainstorm different ideas to include on a scale.

  1. Start by creating a large pool of potential items to draw from.

  2. Select a group of judges to score the items.

  3. Sum the item scores given by the judges.

  4. Calculate intercorrelations between paired items.

  5. Eliminate items that have a low correlation between the summed scores.

  6. Find averages for the top quarter and lowest quarter of judges and do a t-test of the means between the two. Eliminate questions with low t-values, which indicates that they score low in the ability to discriminate.

After weeding out the questions that have been deemed irrelevant or not relevant enough to include, the Likert scale is then ready to be administered.

A Note on Pronunciation

If you've ever taken a psychology course, chances are that you've probably heard the term pronounced "lie-kurt." Since the term is named after Rensis Likert, the correct pronunciation should be "lick-urt."

More Psychology Definitions: The Psychology Dictionary

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References

Latham, Gary P. (2006). Work Motivation: History, Theory, Research, And Practice. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Likert, R. (1932). A Technique for the Measurement of Attitudes. Archives of Psychology 140: 1–55.

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