The Likert Scale (Definition + Examples)

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Published by:
Practical Psychology
Andrew English
Reviewed by:
Andrew English, Ph.D.

You should learn about the Likert Scale to create a survey or measure satisfaction. This article is 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, “How satisfied are you with this product?” It presents multiple response options to help us understand how someone is thinking, feeling, or behaving on the topic at hand. It is commonly used to measure attitudes toward a particular topic or issue.

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 for his Ph.D. thesis. He intended to use the scale to measure public attitudes on international issues.

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

Likert’s contributions go far beyond this scale, too. He is credited with being among the first social psychologists to use open-ended interviews to measure attitudes and preferences. Before Likert, psychologists believed close-ended questions were the only way to collect accurate participant data. Likert’s team developed a methodology for asking open-ended questions that yielded valid data. 

In addition to his research, Likert has written several 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 open-ended, the data collected is done on a scale, making it qualitative.

the likert scale

The Likert Scale Example

Maybe you’ve seen this kind of answer sheet on a personality quiz. Or on a survey at work about how important certain issues are to you. But at some point, we’ve all taken a survey or quiz that includes this type of question. This is an example of answer options to a question that uses the Likert Scale.

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

How the Likert Scale is Set Up 

The Likert Scale, a staple in surveys, offers various formats. Commonly, it features a question followed by a set of 5, 7, or even 10 options. These options allow participants to express their agreement or feelings about a subject. The choice of scale length (5-point, 7-point, or 10-point) can significantly influence the survey's outcome.

For instance, a 5-point scale is straightforward to interpret but might lack nuance. In contrast, a 7-point or 10-point scale offers more granularity, allowing for a more detailed understanding of participants' attitudes. However, longer scales can also lead to confusion or fatigue, potentially impacting the collected data quality.


Questions are designed to measure diverse aspects such as Agreement, Frequency, Quality, Likelihood of an event, and Importance. The choice of scale—whether it's 5-point, 7-point, or 10-point—should align with the depth of insight you seek.

dA 5-point scale is often sufficient for straightforward queries, but a 7-point or 10-point scale might be more appropriate for complex topics where nuanced understanding is essential.

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?”


A Likert scale must provide a series of options—typically 5, 7, or even 10—that cover the full spectrum of possible attitudes or feelings. The number of options plays a key role in data interpretation. A concise 5-point scale is user-friendly and encourages higher response rates. However, a 7-point or 10-point scale, while potentially more taxing for respondents, can yield more nuanced data, capturing subtle differences in attitudes that shorter scales might miss.

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

the likert scale

Tips For Building an Effective Likert Scale 

The Likert scale can measure attitudes toward products, services, or ideas. Maybe you want to plan a party and measure the likelihood of guests participating in certain events. Maybe you planned a company event and wanted to see how people felt about the outcome. Use these tips to build the best Likert scale questions and get the most accurate results. 

1) Be Specific 

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

You'll have to be specific to get to the root of an audience’s satisfaction (or dissatisfaction). 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. Most 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 from. Sometimes, you don’t feel satisfied, 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 about their attitudes. Giving them 9, 11, or more answers can be exhausting. 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 keeping things anonymous. 

Returning to the yoga teacher example, people may not want to share that they’re unhappy with your music or 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. An anonymous survey allows them to be more honest about their attitudes without fearing judgment or repercussion. 

Ready? Start collecting data and see how people feel.

Reference this article:

Practical Psychology. (2020, April). The Likert Scale (Definition + Examples). Retrieved from

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