ERIC Number: ED409328
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Comparative Validity of the Likert and Thurstone Approaches to Attitude Measurement.
Roberts, James S.; And Others
Graded or binary disagree-agree responses to attitude statements are often collected for the purpose of attitude measurement. The empirical characteristics of these responses will generally be inconsistent with the analytical logic that forms the basis of the Likert attitude measurement technique (R. Likert, 1932). As a consequence, the Likert procedure can lead to invalid measurement of a select group of individuals. Likert attitude estimates can substantially misrepresent individuals with the most negative and most positive attitudes so that they appear to have more moderate opinions. In contrast, the Thurstone attitude measurement procedure (L. L. Thurstone, 1928) is generally more consistent with empirical characteristics of disagree-agree responses, and because of this superior consistency, Thurstone attitude scores do not suffer from this type of degraded validity. This paper highlights theoretical differences between the Likert and Thurstone approaches to attitude measurement and demonstrates how such differences can lead to discrepant attitude estimates for individuals with the most extreme opinions. Both simulated data and real data on attitude toward abortion are used to demonstrate this discrepancy. The results suggest that attitude researchers should, at the very least, devote more attention to the empirical response characteristics of items on a Likert attitude questionnaire. At most, these results suggest that other methods, like the Thurstone technique or one of its recently developed item response theory counterparts, should be used to derive attitude estimates from disagree-agree responses. (Contains 1 table, 12 figures, and 36 references.) (Author/SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Thurstone Scales
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, March 24-28, 1997).