Whether you’re a business owner, educational professional, or student, there’s a good chance you’ve completed (and possibly created) some type of survey in your life — maybe after attending an event, completing a college course, leaving a workplace, or setting up your cable TV service.
In just a few simple questions, surveys provide an excellent, cost-effective way to gather valuable feedback and demographic data, leading to
- Less guesswork
- Increased engagement
- Better decision-making
- Improved customer satisfaction
- More enhanced products and services
And since surveys are so beneficial in helping you engage with both your current and prospective customers, advertise existing and future products, and expand into burgeoning markets, it’s worth knowing how to create one.
While there are many types of survey questions — multiple-choice, open-ended, ranking — one of the most popular is Likert scale questions.
What is a Likert scale?
Developed in 1932 by social scientist Rensis Likert and predominantly used in social and educational research, a Likert scale is, essentially, a rating scale that helps gauge customer (or employee or student) perceptions and opinions about a particular product or experience by measuring statements of
- Agreement (most popular)
Unlike binary questions (e.g., “yes or no,” “true or false,” etc.), Likert scale questions allow respondents to choose from a range of responses — like “strongly agree,” “neutral,” or “disagree” (which are also often coded numerically, such as 1 = strongly agree). These kinds of questions provide you, as the researcher, more granular, specific feedback and possible benchmarks to improve the overall customer experience.
Likert scales work for many industries and uses, so they vary accordingly. If you’re looking to create one (or several) for your organization, it’s important to determine which kind you want to use, the instances when it’s appropriate to use, how to write and curate the best questions, and finally, how to create your own Likert scale survey. Don’t worry — we’ll get into all of that.
Variations of Likert scales
When it comes to rating and attitude scales, there are both unidimensional constructs and multidimensional ones.
For the most part, unidimensional models are easier to understand because they have a solitary, underlying dimension — tall or short, heavy or light — that can be measured using a single test. It’s either one or the other.
On the other hand, multidimensional constructs consist of two or more underlying dimensions that need to be measured separately instead of together (for example, using two different tests to assess mathematical vs verbal abilities to gauge academic aptitude).
And though multidimensional constructs have their benefits — especially in the marketing and psychology fields — Likert scaling predominantly uses the much simpler method of unidimensional scaling. (What a relief, right?)
In fact, including the Likert scale, there are four major types of unidimensional scaling methods. While they’re comparable in how they measure the concept of interest, they differ greatly in how they scale.
In addition to the Likert scale (or “Summative” scaling), here’s a breakdown of the other three unidimensional scaling methods.
Though they tout many similarities, the Thurstone scale (named after psychologist Louis Leon Thurstone) was developed four years before the Likert scale and is considered one of the first attitude scales ever used.
While Thurstone initially came up with three different scales — method of successive intervals, method of paired comparisons, and equal-appearing interval — the “equal-appearing interval” method is the most commonly used and referred to today. It’s practically synonymous with the Thurstone scale.
The Thurstone scale is a series of statements about a particular topic, each of which has a numerical value assigned to it that leans toward the positive or negative end of the scale. The survey respondents then select which statements they agree with, allowing the researcher to calculate their mean score and evaluate where their attitude falls on the issue.
Also known as the “cumulative scale,” the Guttman scale (created by 20th-century social scientist and mathematician Louis Guttman) measures how much of a positive or negative attitude the respondent feels about a particular topic with just one number.
For example, suppose you score an 8 on a 10-scale Guttman customer satisfaction questionnaire. In that case, the test administrator can confidently assume that you agreed to the first eight questions on the survey — demonstrating you were pretty well satisfied overall.
Survey creators arrange closely related statements (generally just “yes or no” questions) in such a way that as you make your way down the list, they increase in specificity. The idea is that you will quit once you no longer agree with — or select “yes” to — a statement, providing the researcher with a thorough understanding of where everyone’s opinions fall — especially if many people complete the survey.
Say you’re completing a survey about ice cream flavors. While the first few questions may broadly ask your opinion on vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, the further you move down the list of questions, the more specific they’ll be. So if you loathe chocolate, you’ll probably respond negatively to questions about ice cream flavors containing chocolate — mint chocolate chip, chocolate peanut butter, s’mores — and throw in the towel.
Created by professor Emory S. Bogardus, the Bogardus social distance scale was used to measure one’s willingness to participate in social settings and/or with members of different racial and ethnic groups. Like the Guttman scale, the Bogardus scale is cumulative and can be ordered in a hierarchical manner, starting with low-social-distance questions and ending with high-social-distance questions.
However, this scale has been replaced with more sensitive, approachable surveys due to its contentious subject matter.
What to expect
Now that you’ve got some background on Likert scales and their variations, here’s a breakdown of what’s to come. Throughout this guide, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the world of Likert scales, covering
- Types of Likert scales
- When you should use a Likert scale
- How to write Likert scale questions
- How to create a Likert scale with Jotform
So if you strongly agree with moving forward, let’s get started.
Types of Likert scales
Now that you have a greater understanding of what a Likert scale is, it’s time to dive a bit deeper into the various types — which all measure agreement — so you can decide which is best to include in your future surveys.
Here are the six most popular kinds of Likert scales:
- 3-point: includes a choice of two polar points (one positive and one negative) and one neutral
- 4-point: two positive, two negative, no neutral option
- 5-point: two positive, two negative, one neutral option
- 6-point: three positive, three negative, no neutral option
- 7-point: three positive, three negative, one neutral option
- 9-point: four positive, four negative, one neutral option
To best explain the pros and cons of each throughout this chapter — as well as compare and contrast them — let’s imagine you’re creating an event survey to collect feedback after a weekend conference.
Hoping to gauge everyone’s level of satisfaction, the chance of them returning, and the likelihood of referral, you include the following three statements as your base (though in reality, your survey would be much longer):
- Based on this experience, I plan to return next year.
- I would recommend this event to a friend or colleague.
- Overall, this conference has met my expectations.
Now, let’s examine how each scale would work with this survey.
3-point Likert scale
With the 3-point Likert scale, your respondents’ options include two polar points (like Agree/Disagree or Always/Never) and one Neutral option.
And while the 3-point Likert scale is simple to use and easy to understand, it’s also extremely limiting since it doesn’t supply much in terms of an emotional range (to respondents or to you, the surveyor). After all, the more options the respondents have to provide an honest answer, the more data you’ll get.
4-point Likert scale
The next type of Likert scale is the 4-point scale (or ipsative measurement), which asks respondents to choose between two sets of very similar (but slightly more nuanced) options — like Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, Somewhat Disagree, and Strongly Disagree.
Though the 4-point Likert scale can offer a bit more granular feedback and opinions than its 3-point alternative, the absence of a neutral option can affect data collection.
Say, for example, (sticking with our event survey illustration) you wanted to include statements about specific conference events, like guest speakers, sessions, or overall cost. If a respondent truly has no opinion and feels pressured to select one or, worse still, forgoes answering the statement entirely to avoid being forced into an incorrect response, your data will be significantly skewed.
5-point Likert scale
As one of the more popular Likert options, the 5-point Likert scale (including options like Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, Neutral, Somewhat Disagree, and Strongly Disagree) is easier to understand, minimizes data distortion, and takes less time to complete than most other options.
In fact, of the scales mentioned thus far, it’s one of the best to use if you need more precise, clear-cut feedback about specific facets of your event, like how respondents felt about the conference’s networking opportunities, roundtable discussions, and overall convenience and organization.
And though the 5-point scale may still be restrictive for some researchers — nor does it measure all attitudes about a particular issue — it’s one of the most widely used options.
6-point Likert scale
Of the various Likert styles, the 6-point scale is one of the most telling because the “neutral” option offered in the 3- and 5-point Likert scales is no longer available in its list of choices: Strongly Agree, Agree, Somewhat Agree, Somewhat Disagree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. Therefore, respondents are forced to consider the question more thoughtfully and make a choice instead of “taking the easy way out.”
Moreover, because the 6-point Likert scale is even-numbered, respondents tend to group the six options psychologically, making it easier to read, digest and, ultimately, answer honestly. So, as the researcher, with just a glance at the survey, you’ll be able to see whether the respondents felt favorable, unfavorable, or uncertain about your weekend conference pretty quickly.
7-point Likert scale
Commonly used by researchers, the 7-point Likert scale is next on the list. It’s easy to use and understand but also requires more introspection from respondents. As a result, it provides a better impression of how everyone actually feels about the issue at hand (in this case, the weekend conference).
And unlike the 6-point scale, the 7-point Likert scale offers a neutral option for your event survey — Strongly Agree, Agree, Somewhat Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Somewhat Disagree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree — which, as previously mentioned, has its pros and cons.
Neutral options allow respondents to answer truthfully, even if they don’t care about the statement or question or are uncertain about how they feel. But neutrality can also skew the overall survey if respondents are uncomfortable with the line of questioning or simply complete the survey as quickly as possible instead of responding thoughtfully.
9-point Likert scale
Last, the 9-point Likert scale provides a wide range of options for the respondent — Strongly Agree, Agree, Moderately Agree, Mildly Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Mildly Disagree, Moderately Disagree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree — resulting in a very broad, elaborate collection of feedback.
Yet more isn’t always best, is it? By giving your respondents so many attitude options to choose from (especially so many similar options), you run the risk of collecting skewed data if they don’t fully understand the differences between each option or are selecting responses simply to rush through the survey (which is often the result of survey fatigue).
So, which Likert scale is best for your specific survey? One with a ton of attitude options or just a few? Something in between? And what about a neutral choice — should you include one in your survey or not?
That depends on what you’re using the survey for. Let’s break down when exactly you should use a Likert scale.
When you should use a Likert scale
As you can see, including Likert scales in your survey can help you collect feedback that’s both accurate and useful — resulting in better customer analysis, improved products and services, and more effective decision-making. Plus, since they can measure agreement (as illustrated in the previous chapter), frequency, likelihood, quality, or importance, you have a wide range of options to choose from.
However, if you create a survey without first building a proper foundation — no matter which Likert scale you decide to use or the kind of questions you ask — you might not get the data and insight you’re seeking.
As you’re designing your survey, make sure you
- Outline its overall objective (i.e., what you’re trying to achieve with your survey) to help determine which measurement to use
- Ask yourself about your respondents, including how interested they’ll be in your survey and how many of them you need responses from to consider your data collection successful
- Don’t survey a community you’ve collected data from recently
- Provide a clear, logical question order and structure (more on this in the next chapter)
- Consider offering an incentive to boost participation
Additionally, with a greater appreciation of some of the most popular survey types, you’ll have a better understanding of when to use a Likert scale.
To help, here are four Likert scale examples.
Regardless of your industry, customer satisfaction is vital to the overall success of your business.
It’s how you build brand awareness, improve products, convert leads to loyal clients, stay relevant amid changing trends, meet the needs of your target market, and, of course, make money. And one of the best ways to track and measure how your customers feel about your product and service is by surveying them.
By using a Likert scale in your survey, you can gain a nuanced understanding of your customers’ satisfaction level (low to high) on everything from price and quality to the customer service experience and the likelihood of referral.
Plus, since satisfaction surveys aren’t just for customers, you can create one for your employees too. With employee satisfaction surveys, you can better understand how they view the overall work environment and how fulfilled they are in their current role and department. Using these insights to fuel improvements in your business can lead to higher productivity, less turnover, and better training programs.
Another Likert scale survey example is a feedback form, which allows you to gather relevant information about your business and product performance to increase efficiency and create a better, more profitable work environment.
Like satisfaction surveys, feedback forms (whether gathering event, service quality, or patient feedback) work well for customers and employees. They’ll help you make proper adjustments to current products and processes, as well as more effective decisions on future ones.
Employee engagement surveys
While similar to the aforementioned employee satisfaction surveys, employee engagement surveys are significantly more granular, especially if you use a Likert scale throughout your questionnaire.
In an employee satisfaction survey, respondents provide an Extremely Dissatisfied/Extremely Satisfied (or Very Poor/Excellent) rating on any number of broad categories, including salary, senior leadership, training opportunities, and overall benefits. But with an employee engagement survey, you can expand on each of those same categories by adding follow-up statements and questions to get to the heart of your employees’ specific perspectives or issues.
Consider analyzing your physical work environment, for example. Perhaps from your employee satisfaction survey responses, you learned staff was moderately dissatisfied with it. Now, you’d like to find out precisely what is bothering them.
By asking them about the lighting conditions, the chair and desk they use, cleanliness, air quality, temperature, etc., you’ll not only be able to make improvements that will impact employees company-wide, but you’ll also help your employees feel heard, valued, and empowered (as well as more likely to stay loyal to your organization).
By helping you determine which products and processes are working — and which could use some tweaking — evaluation forms are great tools for obtaining valuable feedback, whether from employees, customers, or even guests from a recent seminar or event you held.
And though they can be a bit stressful to receive (after all, who enjoys being evaluated?), they’re one of the most instrumental ways to identify and improve your company’s shortcomings — resulting in improved workflows, productivity, and scalability.
For example, imagine you’re auditing a specific department but are unsure where to begin. You’re hearing rumblings of poor communication, uneven work distribution, and favoritism — from both employees and managers.
With an evaluation form, you can, hopefully, get to the root cause(s) of the breakdown by surveying current and past employees of the department and requesting they rate items like respect, standards, colleagues, and opportunities across the department.
This should paint an accurate picture of how your employees and managers are feeling while shedding light on how you can address the department’s areas of opportunity.
Likert scale survey templates with Jotform
If you’re looking for the right Likert scale survey for your organization, try one of the 1,600-plus Likert scale templates offered by Jotform (including employee motivation and job satisfaction surveys). You’ll be sure to find the right survey for you and your business — no coding knowledge necessary.
Of course, if you’re more of a DIY-er, you can make custom surveys from scratch with Jotform, too, but we’ll get into how to do that a bit later.
Now that you have a greater understanding of Likert scales, it’s time to learn one of the most crucial parts of creating your survey — how to write Likert scale questions.
How to write Likert scale questions
So far, you’ve learned how to lay the crucial foundation of survey design.
You’ve seen examples of various Likert scales, illustrations of sample surveys, and questions to consider when building a Likert scale from scratch. You’ve decided which survey you want to create and chosen the Likert scale type (ranging from 3-point to 9-point) and Likert scale response option (agreement, satisfaction, likelihood, or importance) you’d like to feature.
Now, using the list of tips and tricks below, it’s time to combine all your Likert scale knowledge and learn how to write the best Likert scale questions that will offer the most insight for you and your business.
To demonstrate the art of writing Likert scale questions, let’s imagine, once again, you’re creating an event survey to collect feedback about a recent conference you held.
How to write Likert scale questions
1. Consider whether to ask questions or make statements
Hands down, one of the best ways to get clear, accurate data from your survey is by asking questions instead of listing a series of statements, regardless of which Likert style type you choose to implement. Why? Because questions are slightly less leading.
Consider the following:
- Asking your respondents, “How satisfied were you with this year’s keynote speaker?”
- Asking them to rank their level of agreement with a statement like, “I was satisfied with this year’s keynote speaker.”
Though subtle, there is a difference between the two. The question allows the respondent to choose where they fall on the Likert scale from Extremely Dissatisfied to Extremely Satisfied. On the other hand, the statement encourages a biased response — small but present — with the first three words: “I am satisfied.”
However, if you choose the popular “agreement” Likert scale response type for your survey, there may be no way around listing statements for the respondent to agree with, rather than questions. Just be mindful of encouraging potential biases as you draft them, and use the most neutral language you can.
2. Ask the right questions
Though asking questions is crucial to survey effectiveness, the whole objective is moot if you’re asking the wrong questions. What’s more, your questions have to be specific to encourage more actionable feedback and leave minimal room for individual interpretation. As an example, consider the following two questions:
- Were you satisfied with the overall event experience?
- Were you satisfied with the ________ (price, guest speakers, accommodations, food quality, breakout sessions)?
The second question will probably give you more information to work from when reviewing responses, right? It’s specific, concise, and clear, meaning your respondents will understand what you’re asking, and you’ll get the information you need from them to find out what worked (and what didn’t) during your conference.
3. Avoid unnecessary adjectives and adverbs
When writing clear, concise Likert scale questions for your survey, it’s important to pay close attention to how you use adjectives and adverbs in both your questions and answers (or if you should even use them at all).
By introducing unnecessary descriptive terms, you may unknowingly add connotations to your questions that encourage specific responses instead of letting your audience respond authentically.
For example, if in your survey about your recent conference you ask, “How satisfied were you with the reasonable price?” you’re already implying the price was fair and modest — and your respondents may not necessarily feel that way.
In addition to being a misleading question, it’s also confusing to answer, especially if your Likert scale responses already include options with adverbs, such as extremely satisfied or moderately dissatisfied. To avoid confusion, it’s best to leave adjectives and adverbs out of your survey questions.
4. List easy questions first
Though this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s best to begin your survey with simple, straightforward questions that are easier to answer, especially if your survey pertains to a particularly sensitive topic, like employee satisfaction or personal stress.
This way, instead of making your respondents feel uncomfortable or frustrated from the jump, they’ll be excited to get started and provide quick, valuable feedback, increasing the likelihood they’ll complete the survey.
After all, the more interested your respondents are from the beginning, the more likely they’ll answer honestly and thoughtfully throughout, providing you the type of accurate feedback you can genuinely use.
5. Keep your scales consistent
While you can switch up your Likert scales from survey to survey, it’s important to keep consistent throughout the same survey. For example, if your first question requires a response using a 5-point scale ranging from Highly Disagree to Highly Agree, for instance, with a neutral midpoint, the final question needs to do the same.
Switching up your scale within a survey may confuse — and annoy — your respondents, leading to inaccurate data that will ultimately be useless to you and your business. Also, be sure to include clear directions at the beginning of your survey so everyone is on the same page.
6. Keep your survey short
To prevent survey fatigue — which is when respondents become too disinterested to finish responding — keep your survey short and to the point. Not only will short surveys increase the chances respondents will complete the survey, but they’ll also ensure you’re asking the right questions once, not repeating similar ideas over multiple questions.
7. Use software to make Likert scale surveys fun
As useful as Likert scale surveys can be, they’re not the most thrilling to complete, let alone create.
So if you need to build one for your business — whether it’s a satisfaction survey or evaluation form — consider doing so with software like online form builder Jotform. Easy to use, easy to understand, and completely code-free, Jotform’s Likert scale creator can help you collect actionable, accurate feedback in minutes.
But, most importantly, it’s fun. With Jotform’s customizable features, you can implement a funky evaluation slider instead of a radio button, allowing your respondents to answer quicker.
For even more whimsy, consider including an emoji slider in your survey instead of text. This way, respondents can express their level of satisfaction with a smiley or frowny face — a pretty universal metric.
For more tips on creating a Likert scale using Jotform, keep reading.
Create a Likert scale with Jotform
When making a Likert scale with Jotform, you have three options — start from scratch, use a Likert scale template (Jotform has more than 10,000 forms to choose from, including 1,600-plus survey templates), or import an existing form.
How to create a Likert scale from scratch
For a full breakdown of Jotform’s capabilities, let’s first build an event feedback survey from scratch:
1. The basics
- Go to Jotform’s Free Likert Scale Creator.
- Sign up with Google, Facebook, or email — they’re all free — and click on Go To My Forms.
- In the upper left corner, select Create Form.
- Select Start From Scratch.
- Next, choose a form layout for your survey. Would you like your survey to be a Classic Form, which shows respondents all of your questions on one page? Or would you prefer it to be a Card Form, which shows a single question per page and requires an answer from respondents before they can move on to the next? While either is a great option, let’s go with Classic Form for this event feedback survey example.
- Let’s name the survey. In the box labeled Form, type Medical Conference Feedback Survey.
- Then, on the left side of the page, select Add Form Element by clicking on the plus sign.
- You’ll see a list of basic form elements — everything from Address and Signature to Time and Image. Select Full Name (so you know who is filling out your survey).
- Then, in the Form Elements box, scroll down until you see Scale Rating under Survey Elements. Click on that.
2. Adding questions
- Now comes the fun part! You should see a box that says Type a question with a 5-point Likert scale — Worst to Best. If 5 is the highest value you’d like in your scale, all you have to do is type in your question.
- Continue clicking Scale Rating and typing in the remainder of your questions until your survey is complete. If, however, you’d like to switch it up a bit, click on the box and then click on the gear icon labeled Properties that appears to the right.
- Under the General tab, let’s type in a question: How organized was the event? (By adjusting the Label Alignment, you can choose whether your question appears to the left, right, or top of the rating scale. In our example, let’s keep the question above the scale — that’s the default setting.)
- Next, let’s make some changes to the rating scale, including its text and highest rating point. Go to Options within the Properties.
- Under Lowest Rating Text, type Poorly organized.
- Under Highest Rating Text, type Extremely organized.
- And under Highest Rating Point, click the up arrow until you get to seven (you can go as high as 21).
- When you’re all set, click the X to exit the Scale Rating Properties box.
- For the rest of your survey, follow the same pattern to add and make adjustments to your questions. But remember one of the most important tips from the last chapter: Keep your scales consistent. While you can change your rating text to better fit the question (though you should only do this if necessary), make sure you don’t change the highest rating point or, even more confusing, suddenly switch the opposite ends of your scale (e.g., switching “Worst to Best” to “Best to Worst”).
- Before we wrap up the conference feedback survey, here are three more sample questions to include (along with corresponding lowest and highest rating texts):
- How helpful were the breakout sessions? Not at all helpful to Extremely helpful
- How was the food at the networking dinner? Absolutely terrible to Extremely delicious
- Overall, how would you rate the conference? Extremely poor to Excellent
- Before we wrap up the conference feedback survey, here are three more sample questions to include (along with corresponding lowest and highest rating texts):
3. Organization and final details
With Jotform, you can also create a Likert scale in an input table as a type of comprehensive conclusion to your survey (click Input Table under Survey Elements from the Form Elements menu on the left). This allows you to ask your respondents to rate specific categories about the conference — like overall cleanliness and friendliness of staff — in one fell swoop.
To modify the rows, columns, and text, click the Properties (gear) icon. Keep in mind that using this approach can be limiting since your column labels need to stay consistent throughout the entire table (e.g., Not Satisfied to Very Satisfied) or else your table won’t make sense. As a result, it doesn’t offer much feedback flexibility to your participants.
Now that you’ve reached the end of your survey, you can modify the Submit button, adjusting the alignment, style, or text. (You can also add Print, Save And Continue Later, or Reset buttons next to it as well.)
Finally, it’s time to publish your survey. (Quick note: you can preview your survey at any time during the building process. Simply click Preview Form at the top right corner of the screen to see what it looks like on a desktop, tablet, or phone.)
To publish, click Publish in the top center of the screen. This will lead you to a new screen giving you the option to share the survey directly with others via a link, embed it on your website, email it, or even download it as a PDF to print and disseminate internally.
How to use Likert scale templates
Creating a Likert scale survey from scratch with Jotform is not only easy but quick too, especially if you already know what you’d like your Likert scale to measure, the type of response scale you’d like to include, and the questions you’d like to ask.
If you’re looking to save yourself even more time by using a premade template, all you have to do is click on Use Template instead of Start From Scratch after you select Create Form in the Form Builder. With options including employee satisfaction surveys, event satisfaction surveys, and training evaluations, you’re sure to find exactly what you need, and you can even further personalize a template to fit your organization’s brand.
And with that, congratulations! You now know how to create a Likert scale survey from scratch and from a user-friendly template with Jotform.
Now that you know everything there is to know about Likert scales, you’re more than ready to create your own.
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