5 or 7-point Likert Scale dilemma

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    For my dissertation research, I am developing a survey to measure employees’ perception of informal learning environment using factor analysis and I am using the 5 point Likert Scale to get higher response rate. 7 point Scale could be very confusing and might deter subjects (in my study, these are business professionals, like salespeople, HR, etc) from completing the survey. I am already in the process of data collection and now I am a little concerned about the scale I am using.

    Attached is an article by Dawes (2008)  in ‘International Journal of Market Research” which proposes that 5 point and 7 point Likert Scale was comparable (although they might need to be rescaled). Can anyone direct me to other published article that discusses the strength and weaknesses of using 5 point vs. 7 point Likert Scale?

    Thank you for your help


    Hope this helps your dilemma. Personally, they are comparable. Only that 7-point likert scale prevents people from being too neutral in their responses.


    Thank you Vanessa! This is exactly what I was looking for.


    Glad to be of help!

    Marco Bardus

    Well, there might be a problem in terms of treating ordinal variables as if they were continuous. There’s a long debate around this issue.

    In terms of reliability, scales with more points are considered more reliable (see this article here: http://smr.sagepub.com/content/25/3/318.abstract and this doctoral dissertation: https://circle.ubc.ca/bitstream/handle/2429/13778/ubc_2001-715140.pdf?sequence=1).

    Alternatively, you might want to consider doing factor analysis with ordinal data: http://www.ub.edu/gdne/amaydeusp_archivos/uls%20vs%20dwls%20sem09.pdf

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