Everything you need to know about the Likert scale

The Likert Scale is a popular tool in surveys that measures people’s attitudes and opinions. We use the Likert scale in our employee experience surveys as it is one of the most useful types of rating scales and lends itself to the most useful type of employee experience survey question.

Many people find this type of scale useful because it provides a quick, easy way to assess how strongly respondents feel about something. In this guide, we’ll explain how the Likert Scale works and its advantages and disadvantages.

What is the Likert scale?

The Likert Scale is a psychometric scale commonly used in research that relies on surveys and questionnaires to obtain data from respondents.

Developed in 1932 by psychometric researcher Rensis Likert, it is a bipolar scale that combines both quantitative and qualitative behaviour measures.

The scale typically ranges from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). It can also be extended with additional points for further detail.

How does it work?

The Likert Scale works by providing a set of choices which respondents can select from. The respondent must indicate the degree to which they agree or disagree with a given statement and depending on their selection. The results are then tallied and averaged.

It’s important to remember that the Likert Scale does not measure absolute truth, rather it measures opinion or attitude about a certain statement.

Furthermore, it is assumed that the more extreme an answer is in either direction (e.g., strongly agree or strongly disagree) reflects more certainty and intensity than the middle options (e.g., undetermined).

Likert scale
Likert scale examples

The advantages of using a Likert scale

There are many advantages to using a Likert Scale to measure opinion or attitude.

First, it is possible to measure both positive and negative attitudes with the same scale.

Additionally, the scale is easy to administer, as respondents can quickly answer a set of questions and provide their opinions.

Finally, by providing more options for responses (e.g., strongly agree, agree, undetermined, disagree) rather than just yes/no options, you get more detailed and precise results from your survey which can be used in further analyses.

The disadvantages

While the Likert Scale is useful in many ways, it has some disadvantages.

One of the biggest drawbacks is that since all the items measure a single construct, the responses may be biased towards one perspective.

Additionally, since this type of scale usually measures responses along the lines of Agree – Disagree, responses can become “anchored” to either end of the scale.

Finally, sometimes respondents do not understand what they are supposed to answer and choose arbitrary answers just to finish quickly.

In conclusion

There is lots of statistical complexity around rating scales, but we recommend you don’t overthink it! Likert scales work well in practice, most people are familiar with them and they are easy to integrate into your surveys.