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Understanding Likert Scales: A Guide for Student Researchers 

Discover how the Likert scale can be used in surveys and questionnaires to measure attitudes and perceptions in market research.

Understanding Likert Scales

As an integral tool for assessing attitudes and opinions, the Likert scale is a survey staple, especially for student research projects. But how exactly can you develop effective Likert scale questions? And what should you know about analyzing the data? This guide covers everything you need to utilize Likert scales to enrich your research.

What is a Likert Scale? 

A Likert scale is a type of survey question rating scale that measures people's attitudes, opinions, or perceptions. It uses a rating system that allows respondents to choose their level of agreement with a statement or question. 

A Likert scale presents respondents with a series of statements and asks them to rate their level of agreement—typically on a 5-point spectrum from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” This quantifies subjective perspectives, helping reveal patterns in beliefs, perceptions, or attitudes. The versatility of Likert scaling makes it widely applicable for student research across disciplines.

Likert Scale Survey Question Examples 

Here are two examples of 5-point Likert scale survey questions:

I feel that I am a person of worth, at least on an equal plane with others.
Strongly disagree  |  Disagree  |  Neutral  |   Agree   |  Strongly Agree

In general, how satisfied are you with X company's products and services? 
Extremely dissatisfied  |  Somewhat dissatisfied  |  Neutral  |  Somewhat satisfied   | Extremely satisfied

Likert scales can use verbal labels for all points or just the scale endpoints, with the intermediate points being numbers. Using the “agree/disagree” format for all points risks acquiescence bias where people passively agree. Numbers counter this.
Likert Scale Questions
Researchers combine multiple Likert-style questions into composite scores within the questionnaire, indicating the overall position on the attitude, perception or opinion studied. Careful design and testing ensure scale reliability and validity. Likert scaling’s simplicity makes surveys accessible, boosting participation.

Advantages of Using Likert Scales

  • Ease of creation and use: Likert scales are simpler to construct compared to other tools, and easily understandable for respondents.  
  • Spectrum of responses: The 5-point scale captures a nuanced spread of reactions, not just binary yes/no. This provides richer insights.
  • Analyzable data: The standardized responses generate data that allow ready statistical analysis, including easy comparisons. 
  • Recognizability: The ubiquity of the Likert scale means instant familiarity for most respondents, improving engagement.

Disadvantages of Using Likert Scales  

  • Self-reporting biases: Responses may reflect social desirability rather than truthful attitudes.
  • Response ambiguity: Agreement levels can be interpreted differently by various respondents. 
  • Depth limitation: The format restricts tailoring responses outside preset options.
  • Question Polarization: Disagree-agree scales can artificially polarize complex topics.

Best Practices for Crafting Likert Scale Statements  

With its advantages and limitations in mind, how can Likert scales be optimized for student research? Follow these tips:
  • Ensure question-objective alignment: Statements should be tracked directly to research aims. Avoid tangents.  
  • Use simple, plain language: Complex statements risk confusing respondents. Keep vocabulary understandable.
  • Balance positive and negative phrasing: This increases scale validity and mitigates polarization.  
  • Maintain response scale consistency: Don’t mix up your “strongly agree” designations and scale direction.
  • Conduct pretesting: Pilot your survey to pinpoint issues with flow, clarity, length, etc.

Analyzing Likert Scale Data

The following methods can be used to analyze Likert data:
  • Compare statement means: Determine averages to see which statements garnered the greatest agreement overall. 
  • Evaluate response variance: Assess the spread of reactions to each statement. Less variance indicates consensus.  
  • Segment by demographics: Compare statement responses based on demographic factors using statistical tests.  
  • Assess reliability: Determine if responses largely align across positively and negatively worded segments.
By taking care crafting Likert scale questions for your research and analyzing the results closely, the richness of this data can be unlocked to derive impactful insights and advance your academic objectives. Reach out if you have any other questions!
As the leading online data collection agency, TGM Research conducted multiple market research projects across the regions. To discover more about our research practices and methodologies reach out to us.

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