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Likert Scales, Online Survey, Survey Examples

What is a Likert Scale? Definition, Examples, and How To Use One

Two thumbs up! Five stars! There are many types of scales designed to let the public know the quality of something. But what about when you want to get the public’s opinion on something? Whether you’re a business surveying customers or a market researcher, a popular way to survey people is using a Likert scale. So what is a Likert scale? How do you use one?

Likert Scale Definition: History and Usage

The Likert scale is named after American social scientist Rensis Likert. Likert devised the psychometric approach in 1932 for conducting social and educational research. Today, Likert-type scales are considered some of the best survey tools for researching popular opinions. As a result, they’re often used for customer satisfaction surveys or a marketing research surveys.

In a Likert scale, a person selects one option among several that reflects how much they agree with a statement. The scale generally consists of five or seven balanced responses that people can choose from, with a neutral midpoint. However, there can be as few as two responses (with no neutral response) or as many as ten. It’s very common for companies to use Likert scales when they want to evaluate a customer’s level of satisfaction during a recent experience.

Later on, you’ll see many examples of Likert survey scales. But, just so we’re on the same page, here’s a typical question using 5 points:

SurveyLegend provides quality support to its customers:

1–Strongly Disagree
2–Somewhat Disagree
3–Neither Agree Nor Disagree
4–Somewhat Agree
5–Strongly Agree

Hint: The correct answer is 5…at least that’s what our customers are saying!

Are Likert Scales Ordinal or Interval?

Almost everyone agrees that the Likert rating scale provides ordinal data (data which is measured along a scale, but the distances between each point is unknown). However, many believe this scale also provides interval data (data which is measured along a scale, with each point placed at equal distances from one another). 

Here’s what we think: Likert survey scales provide ordinal data, as the results naturally represent someone’s preferences. For example, we know that a 4 is better than a 3. However, it’s not interval data because we don’t know exactly what constitutes a 4 versus a 3 in someone’s mind. 

That said, when a survey has enough questions, many researchers use the data to come up with reliable averages. This means Likert scales “approach” the definition of interval data. We think Dr. David L. Morgan from the Portland State University’s Sociology Department summed up the interval nature of the scale well. He says, “The key point here is to use multiple items, where any one of them may be too weak to provide an adequate measure, but the combination of them is much stronger.”

Are Likert Scales Quantitative or Qualitative?

Likert scales give quantitative value to qualitative data. For example, it may be designed to measure how much a person agrees with a statement regarding a product’s value and assigns a data point to it. This is one reason why the scale is almost universally loved. Researchers like that Likert rating scale questions use a universal method of collecting data, so the results can be easily understood. CEOs and marketers like that they can say someone thinks their product is “excellent” because they assigned a “10” to it.

Why Use a Likert Scale? Advantages and Disadvantages

There are Likert scale advantages and disadvantages. However, there are many more pros than cons!

Likert scales are easy for people to understand and complete. Because questions using the Likert method follow a scale, respondents don’t have to answer yes or no, or either-or. Instead, they can choose to be neutral. All of this means that they wind up delivering better response rates! In addition, Likert scale questions are easier to analyze and report on than open-ended or fill-in-the-blank questions, which are more difficult to analyze because the answers haven’t been configured in advance. 

The one drawback is that you don’t always get in-depth feedback. Consider a restaurant. Sure, you may know someone is dissatisfied with your restaurant because they only gave you one star. But, you won’t know why they were dissatisfied (Was it the food quality? The service? Cleanliness?).  To solve for this, it’s important to ask multiple questions about different aspects of the customer’s visit. After that, ask for their overall satisfaction level.

Difference Between 5 Point Likert Scale and a 7 Point Scale

Most researchers agree that the best Likert scales are the 5-point and 7-point varieties. This simply refers to how many responses the person has to choose from. Most Likert scales you see are going to be odd-numbered. They will have an equal number of positive and negative responses on either side of a neutral response. Poor to excellent Likert scales are popular as you’ll see in one of our 5 point Likert scale templates below.

So why are 5 point and 7 point considered ideal? Because if you offer less than five options, online survey takers may be limited in their responses; they may resort to picking the “most” applicable answer. As a result, you’re deprived of their true opinion. On the other hand, if you go above seven, respondents may feel overwhelmed or annoyed; they may just pick a random answer to move along quickly.

Modern Likert Scale question, designed for mobile surveys.

Other Point Variations in Likert Scales

While the 5 point and 7 point Likert scale are most popular, there are other variations.

2 Point Likert Scale

The simplest form of this scale providing no neutral option (yes/no).

3 Point Likert Scale

The 3 point scale is used similarly to the 2 point version, but introduces a neutral option (yes/unsure/no).

4 Point Likert Scale

This version forces respondents to make a choice. Consider this 4 point smiley face Likert scale, where the faces represent: Extremely Dissatisfied, Somewhat Dissatisfied, Satisfied, and Extremely Satisfied:

4 point Likert scale

There is no neutral choice. However, if a researcher wants to find a neutral point, they can average together Somewhat Dissatisfied and Satisfied.

6 Point Likert Scale

The 6 point scale is meant to provide more options for respondents. Because it is an even point scale, there is no neutral option.

9 Point Likert Scale

This Likert scale is used to offer respondents a wider variety of choices. It provides a higher degree of measurement precision, with a neutral option. It’s not commonly used as it can take respondents longer to make their selections. As noted before, this can result in them being less accurate with responses as they speed through the survey.

10 Point Likert Scale

This provides a greater Likert scale level of measurement precision, like the 9 point Likert scale. However, it does not include a neutral option.

5 Tips for Creating a Likert Scale

1. Ask multiple questions

It’s often not enough to ask one general question about a particular topic, opinion, or experience. If you do, you won’t see the full picture. Asking multiple questions remedies this, taking into consideration all of the factors that could have contributed to this response.

2. Avoid using different scales

Mixing different scales within your surveys can cause respondent confusion. Bonus: Using only one scale will also make your final analysis that much easier.

3. Label the numeric responses

Do not simply attach a number to possible responses. Always include wording on your scale question, otherwise online survey takers may confuse which numbers are positive and which are negative.

4. Create unbiased responses

To improve Likert scale validity and reliability, stay away from survey questions that may lead people to answer a certain way. For example, you don’t want to force them to choose between extremes as it can skew your results.

5. Keep it simple

Creating a Likert scale survey doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, the best survey questions are concise and to-the-point. Long, complex questions, for instance, tend to lose readers or test their patience. Additionally, inadvertently asking two questions in one can leave respondents unsure of how to answer.

Likert Scale Examples and Questions

Below are a number of examples of Likert scales using different numbers of points. The Likert scale question examples may also provide inspiration when developing your survey. Please note that the numbers in the answers indicate the relative position of items, but not the magnitude of difference. You do not have to include numbers in your survey questions if you prefer not to.

Comparing 2 Products

1 – Much worse
2 – Somewhat worse
3 – About the same
4 – Somewhat better
5 – Much better

Quality

1 – Poor
2 – Fair
3 – Good
4 – Very good
5 – Excellent

Support / Opposition

1 – Strongly oppose
2 – Somewhat oppose
3 – Neutral
4 – Somewhat favor
5 – Strongly favor

Barriers

1 – Not a barrier
2 – Somewhat of a barrier
3 – Moderate barrier
4 – Extreme barrier

Likelihood

1 – Extremely unlikely
2 – Unlikely
3 – Neutral
4 – Likely
5 – Extremely likely

Good / Bad

1 – Very negative
2 – Negative
3 – Neutral
4 – Positive
5 – Very positive

Reflect Me

1 – Very untrue of me
2 – Untrue of me
3 – Somewhat untrue of me
4 – Neutral
5 – Somewhat true of me
6 – True of me
7 – Very true of me

My beliefs

1 – Very untrue of what I believe
2 – Untrue of what I believe
3 – Somewhat untrue of what I believe
4 – Neutral
5 – Somewhat true of what I believe
6 – True of what I believe
7 – Very true of what I believe

Level of Familiarity

1 – Not at all familiar
2 – Slightly familiar
3 – Somewhat familiar
4 – Moderately familiar
5 – Extremely familiar

Level of Awareness

1 – Not at all aware
2 – Slightly aware
3 – Somewhat aware
4 – Moderately aware
5 – Extremely aware

Knowledge of Action

1 – Never true
2 – Rarely true
3 – Sometimes but infrequently true
4 – Neutral
5 – Sometimes true
6 – Usually true
7 – Always true

Affect on …

1 – No affect
2 – Minor affect
3 – Neutral
4 – Moderate affect
5 – Major affect

Level of Acceptability

1 – Totally unacceptable
2 – Unacceptable
3 – Slightly unacceptable
4 – Neutral
5 – Slightly acceptable
6 – Acceptable
7 – Perfectly Acceptable

Level of Appropriateness

1 – Absolutely inappropriate
2 – Inappropriate
3 – Slightly inappropriate
4 – Neutral
5 – Slightly appropriate
6 – Appropriate
7 – Absolutely appropriate

Level of Importance

1 – Not at all important
2 – Low importance
3 – Slightly important
4 – Neutral
5 – Moderately important
6 – Very important
7 – Extremely important

Level of Concern

1 – Not at all concerned
2 – Slightly concerned
3 – Somewhat concerned
4 – Moderately concerned
5 – Extremely concerned

Level of Difficulty

1 – Very difficult
2 – Difficult
3 – Neutral
4 – Easy
5 – Very easy

Level of Influence

1 – Not at all influential
2 – Slightly influential
3 – Somewhat influential
4 – Moderately influential
5 – Extremely influential

Level of Probability

1 – Not probable
2 – Somewhat improbable
3 – Neutral
4 – Somewhat probable
5 – Very probable

Overall Impression

1 – Didn’t get what I wanted
2 – Got a little of what I wanted
3 – Somewhat got what I wanted
4 – Got a lot of what I wanted
5 – Got everything I wanted

Level of Agreement

1 – Strongly disagree
2 – Disagree
3 – Somewhat disagree
4 – Neither agree or disagree
5 – Somewhat agree
6 – Agree
7 – Strongly agree

Level of Agreement

1 – Strongly disagree
2 – Disagree
3 – Neither agree or disagree
4 – Agree
5 – Strongly agree

Level of Satisfaction

1 – Completely dissatisfied
2 – Mostly dissatisfied
3 – Somewhat dissatisfied
4 – Neither satisfied or dissatisfied
5 – Somewhat satisfied
6 – Mostly satisfied
7 – Completely satisfied

Level of Satisfaction

1 – Not at all satisfied
2 – Slightly satisfied
3 – Unsure
4 – Very satisfied
5 – Extremely satisfied

Frequency

1 – Never
2 – Rarely, in less than 10% of the chances when I could have
3 – Occasionally, in about 30% of the chances when I could have
4 – Sometimes, in about 50% of the chances when I could have
5 – Frequently, in about 70% of the chances when I could have
5 – Usually, in about 90% of the chances I could have
5 – Every time

Frequency

1 – Never
2 – Rarely
3 – Occasionally / Sometimes
4 – Often
5 – Always

How to Analyze Likert Scale Data

You will find many ideas out there about how to analyze Likert scale data. For example, many people want to know how to calculate mean score for Likert scale data, which would simply be the sum of all numbers divided by the count. However, as mentioned earlier, these scales provide ordinal data, and the values between points cannot be considered equal. That means that using a mean (the average of all the numbers) is not appropriate for analysis.

Instead, it is recommended that you use a mode score for easy inappropriate for ordinal data. To calculate the mode score for Likert scale data, simply determine the number that appears the most. Let’s say you surveyed ten people on the quality of a product on a 5 point scale and the results were as follows:

5, 5, 4, 1, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 3

The mode would be 4, as it appears the most. You’ll note that in this example, the mean would also have been 4. However, in highly skewed distributions, these numbers would be different as you’ll see below:

1, 1, 1, 1, 5, 5, 5, 1, 1, 1

Here, the mode would be 1. Most people clearly don’t like the product. However, the mean would have been 3, but concluding that most people think the product is average is clearly not the case, which is why a mode score is most appropriate when analyzing Likert scale data.

Likert Scale Templates on SurveyLegend

SurveyLegend offers the best online survey software, with countless survey samples and templates. Want to switch languages to have your Likert scale in Spanish or another language? No problem! We let you easily create Likert scale questions that are responsive, beautifully adjusting even to the small mobile phone screens. Want to see a 5-point Likert survey in action? Check out one of our student survey Likert scale templates here. It’s just one of many types of surveys we have available for our customers. You can also check out this blog for more information on using our Likert scale templates. 

Conclusion

The Likert scale is a great option for businesses and researchers wanting an easy way to survey customers or the general public. When it’s time to create your survey, choose SurveyLegend for easy

design and analysis.

Have you used a Likert scale in your research? Did you find it easy to use and analyze? Let us know in the comments! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Likert scale capitalized?

Yes.  It’s named after American social scientist Rensis Likert, who created the scale.

What is a Likert scale?

Likert scales measure how much a person agrees with a statement. The scale generally consists of five or seven balanced responses that people can choose from, with a neutral midpoint. 

Are Likert scales ordinal or interval?

Likert scales provide ordinal data (data which is measured along a scale, but the distances between each point are unknown).

Are Likert Scales Quantitative or Qualitative?

Likert scales give quantitative value to qualitative data. They assign a data point to a statement.

Should you use a mean or mode to analyze Likert scale data?

A mode score should used, determining which number appears the most.

About the Author

Pouya Sinaian

Mathematician, statistician data analyst, and lecturer. MSc in "Mathematical Modelling and Simulation" from BTH, Sweden.

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