Likert Scale: Examples and Definition

April 21, 2023/10 mins min read
Likert Scale
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SolmazFullstack Engineer

A Likert scale is a type of rating scale, often found on survey forms or questionnaires, that measures how people feel and levels of agreement which can be useful in many different situations. This article explores the Likert scale in-depth and will help you to use it in the right way.

Have you ever seen the picture shown below? If the answer is no, then let us introduce it to you. What you see in the picture is the scale question used by doctors to measure the amount of pain a patient is feeling. This is only one of the hundreds of different scale questions that are being used worldwide as a tool for measurement.

Likert scale example

Scales are often used in online surveys. Think of a Likert Scale as an improved version of a standard “Yes/No” or “Agree or Disagree” question and they are able to measure the attitudes and opinions of the audience with more of a variety in responses. This kind of question is known as a Likert scale. 

Likert scales are widely used to measure attitudes and opinions with a greater degree of nuance than a simple “Yes/No” question. Oftentimes you will see a scale that includes a series of options ranging from 1-10 or from “Strongly disagree” to “Strongly agree”.

Generally, a scale question can be defined as a type of closed-ended question(a question that presents respondents with pre-defined answer choices) in which there is a range of words or numbers that represent a wide spectrum of audience opinions, attitudes, perceptions, etc.

What is a Likert Scale?

A Likert scale is a common approach in survey research, invented by American social scientist Rensis Likert. It uses a 5 or 7-point answer range to gauge respondents' opinions or feelings. Respondents can choose a negative, neutral, or positive response to a statement. 

Likert scales are a type of rating scale used to measure attitudes, agreement, importance, or likelihood. They assume attitudes are evenly spaced along the rating scale.

Although the terms "Likert scale" and "rating scale" are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same. Likert scales are a subtype of rating scales that allow for quantitative data to be collected and analyzed more easily.

However, they can be subject to response bias, as individuals may lie to present themselves in a positive light.

Researchers have investigated the effects of scale layout on response bias. They found that left-side bias occurs when answer options are on the left side of the scale, and respondents tend to choose these options, especially positive ones. 

Similarly, vertical scales also show a selection bias, with respondents skipping lower options and choosing top ones more often. Some scale layouts may be more suitable than others to avoid survey bias and ensure accurate responses.

Likert scale layout

Likert Scale Survey Questions and Examples

So now that we have discussed in some detail the idea and the definition of the Likert Scale, let us look at some common examples. We have also included a series of Likert templates that you can download and use for free. 

Horizontal Likert Scale

According to the Likert scale bias matrix, to keep the bias as low as possible in horizontal order, it appears best to place negative attitude options on the left side of the scale and positive attitude options on the right side of the scale.

Horizontal Likert Scale

Horizontal Likert Scale

Vertical Likert Scale

According to the Likert scale bias matrix, to keep the bias as low as possible in vertical order, it appears best to place negative attitude options at the top of the scale and positive attitude options at the bottom of the scale.

Vertical Likert Scale

Vertical Likert Scale

There are two general types of Likert questions: Unipolar and Bipolar.

Unipolar or 5-point Likert Scale

Unipolar scales are a type of measurement tool that asks users to rate the presence or absence of a single thing. These scales are more detailed and precise than other types of scales that ask for ratings on a range of items. 

In this example, we have added additional labels for respondents on a 5-point scale. There is no neutral midpoint, as point number 3 is “Moderately satisfied”. Thus this scale weighs more in favor of satisfaction with fewer “negative statements”.  

Even though unipolar scales measure data that can only be ranked (not mathematically compared), they often provide more accurate responses.

Unipolar Likert Scale

Unipolar Likert Scale

Bipolar or 7-point Likert Scale

A bipolar scale is a type of measurement tool that asks respondents to balance two different qualities against each other and define their relative proportions. 

A bipolar scale usually runs along the succession of -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, numerically. You will notice in this example that we have a definitive middle point labeled “Neither agree nor disagree”. Respondents can thus give a completely neutral answer. 

Unlike a unipolar scale which only has one endpoint, a bipolar scale has two opposite endpoints. This can be useful when customer service is conducting a customer satisfaction survey about a product or service.

Bipolar Likert Scale

Bipolar Likert Scale

The importance of surveys and questionnaires 

Surveys and questionnaires aren’t just nice to do or kind of useful. They have become an invaluable tool for any department within an organization that hopes to grow, remain innovative, and continue to succeed. 

Now you might think I am overstating their importance but alas I am afraid if anything I may be underselling them. If you are looking for tips and tricks on creating your very own surveys then we have a selection of blog posts on that very topic. 

We also have a number of survey templates you can download with just one click like those you have seen above. Just think, a survey without all the hassle of typing out every single question. What bliss! 

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