Likert scale questions: What are they and how do you write them?

A Likert scale is a rating scale that lets respondents select answers ranging across a spectrum of choices to gain deeper insight on attitudes, beliefs, or opinions. 

How a Likert scale is different from a Rating Scale

A Likert scale was developed in 1932 by Rensis Likert, a psychologist, to better understand the feelings of respondents given a balanced set of choices. Likert scales are most often an odd-numbered series of options, between 5 to 7 answer choices, evenly distributed in weight and symmetry across the scale and ranging from one extreme end of a spectrum to the other. The scale is popular in questionnaires and online surveys in collecting quantifiable data about subjects that are often difficult to analyze without observation, such as consumer attitudes, beliefs, and opinions.

Although Likert scales are rating scales, the opposite is not necessarily true. While “Likert scale” is often used interchangeably to describe a rating scale, a Likert scale is actually a specific type of rating scale that exclusively focuses on a range of answers on a spectrum. A rating scale can consist of any number of rating choices, such as stars or numeric responses as are used in an NPS question type.

Rating questions are a family of question types that include Likert scales, numeric systems, NPS and more.

When you should use a Likert Scale

Likert scales are a particularly useful form of rating scale that can be used when observation isn’t an option. Website and mobile surveys, customer satisfaction questionnaires, and more allow researchers to gain insights on perceptions, behaviors, feelings and more by asking respondents to self-report their reactions based on how they feel using the Likert scale. 

Some common uses for Likert scale rating question types include:

    • Customer Satisfaction surveys
    • Investigating the likelihood of an action being taken
    • Gaining insights on beliefs or perceptions surrounding a specific topic
    • How frequently an action occurs

Likert scales make it easier to quantify these kinds of insights, so it can be an asset in analyzing large quantities of data. There are many more instances in which a Likert scale can be of use, as it is one of the most popular rating scales in use today. 

How to write Likert scale questions

Likert scales offer a balance of answer choices, so the scale should be symmetrical in weight. If, for example, one end is “extremely likely” the other end should be “extremely unlikely” or “not at all likely” with a neutral choice such as “neither likely nor unlikely” as the center option.

Likert scales offer a balanced scale of options.

As with any survey, it’s important to follow best practices for writing good survey questions. Likert scales follow these same basic principles. 

Keep in mind that Likert scale answer choices are ordered, and should therefore not be shuffled. To reduce bias in a Likert scale, questions should be given with “reverse order” shuffling commands to keep the scale intact. This allows varied presentation of choices to respondents, but doesn’t lead to confusion or misunderstandings.

In the Pollfish platform, you can select Likert scale answer variants from the “Predefined answers” selection to choose the scale that is the best fit for your question.

Examples of Likert scale questions

Customer satisfaction surveys

Likert scales can be used in customer satisfaction surveys to determine how customers felt about their experience, a product, or service. 

Example: How happy were you with your stay at our hotel?

    • Very satisfied
    • Somewhat satisfied
    • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
    • Somewhat dissatisfied
    • Very dissatisfied

Frequency of behaviors

If you are looking for how often a consumer purchases a product, takes an action, or spends a certain amount of money, Likert scales can help uncover some of these behaviors.

Example: How often do you read articles on your phone vs in a newspaper?

    • Much more
    • Moderately more
    • About the same
    • Moderately less
    • Much less

Agreement statements

Perhaps the most popular Likert scale in survey questions is a scale of agreement-disagreement, where a respondent is asked to select the answer that best reflects their belief about a statement provided.

Example: Please select how much you agree or disagree with the following statement: Cats make better pets than dogs.

    • Strongly agree
    • Somewhat agree
    • Neither agree nor disagree
    • Somewhat disagree
    • Strongly disagree

Using a Likert scale in a matrix question type

Matrix style question types allow Likert scales to be used to ask about several different ideas at once. This can be a good option when the survey will otherwise be repetitive, measuring the same data for many similar ideas.

Likert scales are useful in matrix questions to measure scales on similar subject matter.

Likert scales offer researchers an easy scale to measure certain opinions on topics important to their customers and consumers, and provide actionable insights that can be analyzed. To make the most of Likert scales using Pollfish, consider selecting answer choices from our Predefined answer selections or use our Crosstabs feature for advanced analysis when your survey is complete.