The Likert Scale (Definition + Examples)

If you want to put together a survey or measure satisfaction, you should learn about the Likert Scale. This article is all about the Likert Scale and how it’s used to understand how people feel about issues, products, and themselves. 

What is the Likert Scale?

The Likert Scale asks questions like, “How satisfied are you with this product?” The answers range on a scale: “Very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, neutral, dissatisfied, highly dissatisfied.” You can only choose one of these options before you move onto the next question. 

the likert scale

Who Invented the Likert Scale?

The Likert Scale was developed by Rensis Likert in 1932. Likert was a social psychologist who developed the scale as a part of his PhD thesis. He wanted to use the scale to measure the general attitude of different international issues.

The scale caught on and is now used to measure the attitudes of many issues, or brands, or other subjects. 

Likert’s contributions go far beyond this scale, too. He is credited for being one of the first social psychologists to use open-ended interviews to measure attitudes and preferences. Before Likert, psychologists believed that close-ended questions were the only way to collect accurate data from participants. Likert’s team developed a way of open-ended questioning that focused the participant’s answer toward something that was usable in data. 

In addition to his research, Likert has written a number of books on management and human organization. His work is key to social psychology and industrial-organizational psychology as we know it today. 

But let’s talk more about the Likert Scale and how it’s used in surveys. 

Is The Likert Scale Quantitative or Qualitative?

Although the questions used in the Likert Scale are of an open-ended nature, the data that is collected is done so on a scale, making it qualitative.

the likert scale

The Likert Scale Example

Maybe you’ve seen this kind of question on a personality quiz. Or on a survey at work about how important certain issues are to you. But at some point in time, we’ve all taken a survey or quiz that includes this type of question. 

Did you know that this is called Likert Scale? and was conducted specifically to measure specific data.

How the Likert Scale is Set Up 

The Likert Scale is familiar to anyone who has taken a survey. It consists of a question and set of options. The participants may answer by choosing one of the options given. 


The question portion will ask participants how they feel about a certain subject. Questions will aim to measure:

  • Agreement 
  • Frequency 
  • Quality
  • Likelihood of an event 
  • Importance 

These measurements are pretty self-explanatory. For example, a President may use the Likert scale to measure how people feel about her views on foreign policy. Or a yoga studio may use the scale to see how likely it is that their students will sign up for a retreat. 

Questions will look like this:

“Do you agree with the President’s views on foreign policy?”

“How likely are you to sign up for a retreat in 2021?”


The Likert scale must provide a series of 4-7 options that span the entire range of attitudes. It doesn’t help a business to ask how satisfied customers are with their service and only provide “satisfied, somewhat satisfied, and very satisfied.” They won’t be able to see the amount of customers that are potentially dissatisfied. 

How many options is best? I’ll explain. In this next section, I’m going to discuss the best ways to build a Likert scale for your own use. 

the likert scale

Tips For Building an Effective Likert Scale 

You can use the Likert scale to measure attitudes on any number of products, services, or ideas. Maybe you want to plan a party and want to measure the likelihood of guests participating in certain events. Maybe you planned a company event and want to see how people felt about the outcome. Use these tips for building the best Likert scale questions and getting the most accurate results. 

1) Be Specific 

Let’s say you are teaching a yoga class and you want to know whether your students are happy with your classes. You could simply send out a one-question survey that asks, “Are you happy with my class?” Sure, that might give you the general attitude toward your class. But will that help you to improve if people are not super satisfied? 

If you really want to get to the root of an audience’s satisfaction (or dissatisfaction,) you’ll have to be specific. We’ll go back to the teaching example. You might send out a five-question survey that asks how satisfied people are with: 

  • The speed of the class
  • Your use of adjustments/assists
  • The amount that you cue each pose
  • The playlist you use in class 
  • The temperature of the room 

This will help you break down what people do and do not like about your class. A one-question survey could tell you that people aren’t so satisfied with the class. But it might not be because you’re a bad teacher or don’t know what you’re talking about. A majority of people might think that the music is too loud or the classroom is too hot! These simple fixes, discovered by specific survey questions, will help everyone have a more satisfactory experience. 

2) Use Odd Options 

Five options is the sweet spot. Four, or any even number, doesn’t leave room for a “neutral” option. Anything below five also doesn’t give a wide range of options for people to choose. Sometimes, you don’t feel extremely satisfied, extremely dissatisfied, or neutral. You lean one way, but don’t have extreme feelings. 

On the other hand, too much variety can be overwhelming. You’re already asking people to answer multiple questions on their attitudes. Giving them 9, 11, or more answers can be exhausting to look at. This often leads people to choose something “random” that doesn’t reflect their true feelings. 

3) Make It Anonymous 

Anonymity might not be a big deal if you’re creating a survey for a huge corporation. But if you’re handing out surveys to your friends or the people at your office, I suggest that you keep things anonymous. 

Going back to the yoga teacher example, people may not want to share that they’re not happy with your music or your teaching style. They don’t want to hurt your feelings, or maybe feel like they’re not strong enough in their yoga practice to share their opinion. With an anonymous survey, they can be more honest about their attitudes without the fear of judgement or repercussion. 

Ready? Start collecting data and see how people really feel.

Practical Psychology

Practical Psychology began as a collection of study material for psychology students in 2016, created by a student in the field. It has since evolved into an online blog and YouTube channel providing mental health advice, tools, and academic support to individuals from all backgrounds. With over 2 million YouTube subscribers, over 500 articles, and an annual reach of almost 12 million students, it has become one of the most popular sources of psychological information.

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