Likert Scale Questions
A Likert scale is an orderly scale from which respondents choose the option that best supports their opinion. It can be used to measure someone’s attitude by measuring the extent to which they agree or disagree with a particular question or statement.
When voters go to the polls, it is not easy to assess what drives their voting behaviour. Do voters consider all issues relating to which way they are going to cast their vote in equal measures? Surveys carried out can indicate which way the vote will go but don’t always explain results on Election Day. Voters can be asked to rate issues in order of importance, however, this doesn’t always show if one issue is more important than another to the voter.
Likert Scale questions are a form of closed question and one of the most widely used tools in researching popular opinion. They use psychometric testing to measure beliefs, attitudes and opinion. The questions use statements and a respondent then indicates how much they agree or disagree with that statement. Usually, a scale of 0-10 is provided with Likert Scale questions, although shorter scales may also be possible.
There are advantages and disadvantages to every type of research, and they are quite clear with this question type. The main advantage of Likert Scale questions is that they use a universal method of collecting data, which means it is easy to understand them. Working with quantitative data, it is easy to draw conclusions, reports, results and graphs from the responses. Furthermore, because Likert Scale questions use a scale, people are not forced to express an either-or opinion, rather allowing them to be neutral should they so choose. Once all responses have been received, it is very easy to analyse them.
Last but not least, it is very quick and easy to run this type of survey and it can be sent out through all modes of communication, including text messages.
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However, one disadvantage of using Likert Scales can be that respondents either lean towards choosing the most extreme option or express no opinion at all. This can lead to results being clustered around the middle or at each end of the scale, making it hard to distinguish between strong and weakly held opinions, implying the space between each possibility is equidistant, which is not true in real life.
As a result, a true attitude is not actually measured. Furthermore, you must realise that your previous questions will have influenced responses to any further survey questions that have been asked. People also have a tendency to automatically avoid “extremes”, therefore answering the way they think they are expected to, rather than providing real honesty.
Using Likert scales in online surveys
However, the online survey Likert Scale is positive overall, particularly if you understand the limitations it presents. By knowing that it is by no means a perfect tool, you are able to read data less as set in stone but more as a generalised picture of a certain issue, which can be all you need for improvement.
For example, opinion polling on the EU Referendum showed a narrowing of opinion between leave and stay voters, with many issues dividing opinion.