Likert Scale Definition, Examples and Analysis

Various kinds of rating scales have been developed to measure attitudes directly (i.e., the person knows their attitude is being studied).  The most widely used is the Likert scale (1932).

In its final form, the Likert scale is a five (or seven) point scale that is used to allow an individual to express how much they agree or disagree with a particular statement.

The Likert scale (typically) provides five possible answers to a statement or question that allows respondents to indicate their positive-to-negative strength of agreement or strength of feeling regarding the question or statement.

I believe that ecological questions are the most important issues facing human beings today.

likert scale agreement

A Likert scale assumes that the strength/intensity of an attitude is linear, i.e., on a continuum from strongly agree to strongly disagree, and makes the assumption that attitudes can be measured.

For example, each of the five (or seven) responses would have a numerical value that would be used to measure the attitude under investigation.

Examples of Items for Surveys

In addition to measuring statements of agreement, Likert scales can measure other variations such as frequency, quality, importance, and likelihood, etc.

AgreementStrongly AgreeAgreeUndecidedDisagreeStrongly Disagree
ImportanceVery ImportantImportantModerately ImportantSlightly ImportantUnimportant
QualityExcellentGoodFairPoorVery Poor
LikelihoodAlmost Always TrueUsually TrueOccasionally TrueUsually Not TrueRarely True
LikelihoodDefinitelyProbablyPossiblyProbably NotDefinitely Not

Analyzing Data

The response categories in the Likert scales have a rank order, but the intervals between values cannot be
presumed equal. Therefore, the mean (and standard deviation) are inappropriate for ordinal data (Jamieson, 2004).

Statistics you can use are:

  • Summarize using a median or a mode (not a mean as it is ordinal scale data ); the mode is probably the most suitable for easy interpretation.
  • Display the distribution of observations in a bar chart (it can’t be a histogram because the data is not continuous).

Critical Evaluation


Likert Scales have the advantage that they do not expect a simple yes / no answer from the respondent but rather allow for degrees of opinion and even no opinion at all.

Therefore quantitative data is obtained, which means that the data can be analyzed relatively easily.

Offering anonymity on self-administered questionnaires should further reduce social pressure and thus may likewise reduce social desirability bias.

Paulhus (1984) found that more desirable personality characteristics were reported when people were asked to write their names, addresses, and telephone numbers on their questionnaire than when they were told not to put identifying information on the questionnaire.


However, like all surveys, the validity of the Likert scale attitude measurement can be compromised due to social desirability.

This means that individuals may lie to put themselves in a positive light.  For example, if a Likert scale was measuring discrimination, who would admit to being racist?


Bowling, A. (1997). Research Methods in Health. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Burns, N., & Grove, S. K. (1997). The Practice of Nursing Research Conduct, Critique, & Utilization. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders and Co.

Jamieson, S. (2004). Likert scales: how to (ab) use them. Medical Education, 38(12), 1217-1218.

Likert, R. (1932). A Technique for the Measurement of Attitudes. Archives of Psychology, 140, 1–55.

Paulhus, D. L. (1984). Two-component models of socially desirable responding. Journal of personality and social psychology, 46(3), 598.

Further Information

History of the Likert Scale

Essential Elements of Questionnaire Design and Development

Olivia Guy-Evans

BSc (Hons), Psychology, MSc, Psychology of Education

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Educator, Researcher

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education.