As a meeting hosts, you may be considering using Likert scales to gather data on attitudes and opinions. But have you ever wondered why Likert scales are typically evenly distributed?
Likert scales, named after Rensis Likert who developed the technique in the 1930s, are a series of statements that respondents are asked to evaluate according to their level of agreement or disagreement. The responses are typically presented as a series of options ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree, or some variation of this.
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One of the main reasons Likert scales are evenly distributed is to allow respondents to accurately and consistently indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with a statement. Having evenly spaced response options allows researchers to more accurately measure the intensity of the respondents' views. For example, if a Likert scale only had two options (strongly agree and strongly disagree), it would be difficult to accurately measure the intensity of someone's views if they fell somewhere in between these two extremes. Using evenly spaced response options allows researchers to capture a range of views, rather than just a simple binary response. But the solution isn’t just offering more than two options, but making sure they are all evenly distributed (unlike the question below).
Whoever did this poll did a bad job with the answers. pic.twitter.com/4JVGXqRUnz— Todd G (@toddaago) September 17, 2022
Strengthen your data even more by including all possible response options, without using a term like other. If the response options are not evenly spaced, it may be more difficult for respondents to accurately reflect their true views. This could lead to skewed results, as some responses may be overrepresented compared to others.
|Strongly Disagree||Disagree||Neither agree or disagree||Agree||Strongly Agree|
|Very Unlikely||Somewhat Unlikely||Neither Likely or Unlikely||Somewhat Likely||Very Likely|
Overall, the use of evenly spaced response options is an important aspect of the Likert scale methodology, as it allows poll creators to accurately measure the intensity of respondents' views and helps to reduce bias in the data. So the next time you use a Likert scale, or are designing one for a survey, consider the importance of evenly spaced response options in accurately capturing the intensity of respondents' views and reducing bias in the data.