Likert Scales 5-Point or 7-Point

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The Likert scale measurement technique was developed in 1932. It is an extremely popular method which is used by scholars. The scale measures responses on a degree of least to most and questions people regarding the extent to which they agree, disagree, approve, disapprove or think to be true or false.

The usual Likert scale will comprise of a minimum of five response categories. If required, the ends of the scale can be extended to facilitate a seven point scale. This happens by adding the prefix ‘very’ to the top and bottom responses of the five point scales. The seven point scale usually reaches the upper limit of the scale’s reliability. Try as far as possible to use a wide scale. For your analysis, which will take place at a later stage, you can always condense the responses.

Scholars even use a minimized version of the Likert scale, by reducing the number of available options to four. Use a 5-point or 7-point Likert scale, depending on the requirements of your study. Occasionally, scholars might need to compare scores which are derived from different rating scales. In certain areas of research such as marketing, psychology and education, and other areas of social research- a 5-point scale could be put on the backburner in favour of a 7-point scale or vice versa. Sometimes both are used for the purpose of comparison.

Likert scales usually find use in questionnaires as well as surveys. For instance, a survey trying to understand customer views of product quality could incorporate a Likert scale. A number of researchers argue in favour of the 7-point Likert scale, since it is believed to give a more precise measure of the participant’s evaluation. Particularly, if the questionnaire is circulated online and needs to be completed without supervision, the 7-point Likert scale is helpful.

In 5-point Likert scales, the risk of interpolation is more. Interpolation is a problem since its adverse impact cannot be addressed online and requires interpretation through practical intervention. Further, 5-point Likert scales might not be refined enough to assess a participant’s precise evaluation of a mechanism. On the other hand, 7-point Likert scales are equipped to record more accurately, but still manage to remain compact. The 7-point Likert scale is also a good format to use if the questionnaire is being circulated online.

The benefit of a 7-point Likert scale is that it provides the users with more options. You must remember that even though you respondents belong to a certain sample, they are still individuals with a range of preferences. Hence your questionnaire should be broad enough to accommodate and match different opinions that the respondent might have. If you go beyond 7, options become rather confusing and your respondent might have difficulty in fathoming or identifying their own responses. Further a 7-point Likert scale helps when you are interested in pin-pointing and narrowing down responses and when your analysis requires to be more specific than general.