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E. Attitude Scales

Attitude scales attempt to determine what an individual believes, perceives, or feels. Attitudes can be measured toward self, others, and a variety of other activities, institutions, and situations. There are four basic types of scales used to measure attitudes: Likert scales, semantic differential scales, Thurston scales, and Guttman scales. The first two are used more often.

1. A Likert Scale:

A Likert scale asks an individual to respond to a series of statements by indicating whether she or he strongly agrees (SA), agrees (A), is undecided (U), disagrees (D), or strongly disagrees (SD) with each statement. Each response is associated with a point value, and an individual’s score is determined by summing the point values for each statement. For example, the following point values might be assigned to responses to positive statements.

SA=5, A=4, U=3, D=2, SD = 1.

For negative statements, the point values would be reversed, that is SA = 1, A = 2 and so on. An example of a positive statement might be “Short people are entitled to the same job opportunities as tall people.” A high point value on a positively stated item would indicate a positive attitude and a high total score on the test would be indicative of a positive attitude

2. A semantic differential scale:

A semantic differential scale asks an individual so give a quantitative rating to the subject of the attitude scale on a number of bipolar adjectives such as good-bad, friendly-unfriendly, positive-negative. The respondent indicates the point on the continuum between the extremes that represents her or his attitude.Most adjective pairs represent one of three dimensions which they labeled evaluation (e.g., good-bad) potency (e.g., strong-weak), and activity (e.g., active-passive). For example on a scale concerning attitudes toward property taxes, the following items might be included.

Necessary———————— Unnecessary

Fair————————————- Unfair

Each position on a continuum has an associated score value; by totaling score values for all items, it can be determined whether the respondent’s attitude is positive or negative. Semantic differential scales usually have 5 to 7 intervals with a neutral attitude being assigned a score value of 0. For the above items, the score values would be a follows.

Necessary ————————–Unnecessary

3 2 1 0 -1 -2 -3

Fair—————————————- Unfair

3 2 1 0 -1 -2 -3

A person who checked the first interval (ie., 3) on both of these items would be indicating a very positive attitude toward property taxes.

3. A Thurstone Scale:

A Thurstone scale asks an individual to select from a list of statements that represent different points of view from those with which he or she is in agreement. Each item has an associated point value between 1 and 11; point value for each item are determined by averaging the values of the items assigned by a number of “judges”. An individual’s attitude score is the average point value of all the statements checked by that individual.

4. A Guttman scale

A Guttman scale also asks respondents to agree or disagree with a number of statements. A Gutman scale, however, attempts to determine whether an attitude is unidimensional if it produces a cumulative scale. In a cumulative scale, an individual who agrees with a given statement also agrees with all related preceding statements;

for example, if you agree statement 3, you also agree with statement 2 and 1.

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