Pros and cons of the Likert scale in your surveys

When conducting surveys that measure the attitude of a target audience, it is common to use the Likert scale. Likert scales are convenient for statistical calculations such as correlation, regression, indexes, etc. But what are the drawbacks?

What is a Likert Scale?

Even if you don’t recognize the name, it’s highly likely that you’ve already come across surveys using Likert scales. A typical example of a Likert scale is when asking the respondent how strongly they perceive something positively or negatively.

For example, “How interesting do you find the Likert scale?”

The response options could look like this:

  • Very interesting
  • Somewhat interesting
  • Neither interesting nor uninteresting
  • Somewhat uninteresting
  • Very uninteresting

Note the neutral middle option, “Neither interesting nor uninteresting.”

Five response options are the most common Likert scale used today. However, there are surveys that desire more nuance and, for instance, include seven alternatives. To make the Likert scale more graphic, emojis are also used. The happy emoji represents the response option “very good,” and the sad one represents “very bad.” It’s up to the surveyor to choose the right format for the target audience participating in the survey.

Who Invented the Likert Scale?

The name Likert scale comes from the American organizational psychologist Rensis Likert, who developed this method of questioning in the 1930s. Since then, the Likert scale has gained popularity and is now one of the more common ways to gather opinions, feelings, and more.

How is a Likert Scale Used?

Surveys aiming to understand the attitude of a target audience often use the Likert scale. By asking the target audience to indicate how strongly or weakly they agree with the statement, responses to different statements can be easily compared.

The Likert scale can be used for various types of questions, such as gauging customers’ opinions about a product or service, their experience of a change, or their satisfaction with an experience or event.

Regardless of the chosen scales, questions must also be written clearly. It is also recommended to adapt response options based on the statement.

What are the Disadvantages of the Likert Scale?

Often, surveyors tend to create long surveys when using the Likert scale. Respondents may become bored with assessing statements they don’t have a strong opinion about, leading to the risk of capturing “pseudo-opinions,” resulting in unfounded analysis.

With the Likert scale, there’s the possibility of agreeing with all statements or remaining neutral to all statements.

What Alternatives Exist to the Likert Scale?

You can replace a Likert question with a standard multiple-choice question or several open-ended questions. Instead of listing twenty statements with a Likert scale, you can ask, for example: “What are the three most important areas for improvement for you?”. In your analysis, you can then easily rank the most important areas for improvement based on the percentage of responses in each area.

Another alternative is to make the above question an open-ended one. The participant lists their three most important areas for improvement, and then you can let them categorize each improvement area within the categories you want to investigate.

What are the Advantages of the Likert Scale?

The advantages of the Likert scale primarily lie in the possibilities for analyzing and comparing responses to different statements. For example, you can correlate all Likert-scale statements in your survey with overall satisfaction. You can also choose to analyze results in terms of the percentage of positive responses, mean value, or conversion to a 0-100 scale.

The method is very common, so both respondents and recipients of your report will recognize it.

Here, the Likert scale can help since the question may be somewhat shorter and simpler, as the response options have different nuances.

We Help You with Your Survey

Which method do you choose?

Regardless of the question type you prefer in your survey, we can help you streamline the path from the questionnaire to the report. You don’t have to spend time manually calculating mean values, positive percentages, NPS, correlations, etc. The results are visualized in graphs and cross-tabulations.

Don’t hesitate to contact us at Research Automators!