Reflections on and test of the metrological properties of summated rating, Likert, and other scales based on sums of ordinal variables

Jarl K. Kampen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

This study aims to contribute to the perpetual controversy on the parametric analysis of ordinal data, by giving a perchance long overdue examination of the widely held notion that sums of ordinal variables (e.g., Likert and summated rating scales) produce measures at ordinal level. In the present study, all 1,048,574 subscales of a well-known and widely applied sumscale, the 20-item CESD scale for depression, were assessed for their metrological properties. It was found that subscales consisting of less than 60% of the items of the original scale have lost all metrological properties of that scale, including ordinality as measured by Kendall's tau. This result justifies concern about the robustness of measurement scale properties of (shortened) sumscales, and by implication, of the empirical findings based on such scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-434
Number of pages7
JournalMeasurement: Journal of the International Measurement Confederation
Volume137
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

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Keywords

  • CESD
  • Depression
  • Likert scale
  • Measurement level
  • Metrology
  • Ordinal
  • Summated rating scale

Cite this

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abstract = "This study aims to contribute to the perpetual controversy on the parametric analysis of ordinal data, by giving a perchance long overdue examination of the widely held notion that sums of ordinal variables (e.g., Likert and summated rating scales) produce measures at ordinal level. In the present study, all 1,048,574 subscales of a well-known and widely applied sumscale, the 20-item CESD scale for depression, were assessed for their metrological properties. It was found that subscales consisting of less than 60{\%} of the items of the original scale have lost all metrological properties of that scale, including ordinality as measured by Kendall's tau. This result justifies concern about the robustness of measurement scale properties of (shortened) sumscales, and by implication, of the empirical findings based on such scales.",
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N2 - This study aims to contribute to the perpetual controversy on the parametric analysis of ordinal data, by giving a perchance long overdue examination of the widely held notion that sums of ordinal variables (e.g., Likert and summated rating scales) produce measures at ordinal level. In the present study, all 1,048,574 subscales of a well-known and widely applied sumscale, the 20-item CESD scale for depression, were assessed for their metrological properties. It was found that subscales consisting of less than 60% of the items of the original scale have lost all metrological properties of that scale, including ordinality as measured by Kendall's tau. This result justifies concern about the robustness of measurement scale properties of (shortened) sumscales, and by implication, of the empirical findings based on such scales.

AB - This study aims to contribute to the perpetual controversy on the parametric analysis of ordinal data, by giving a perchance long overdue examination of the widely held notion that sums of ordinal variables (e.g., Likert and summated rating scales) produce measures at ordinal level. In the present study, all 1,048,574 subscales of a well-known and widely applied sumscale, the 20-item CESD scale for depression, were assessed for their metrological properties. It was found that subscales consisting of less than 60% of the items of the original scale have lost all metrological properties of that scale, including ordinality as measured by Kendall's tau. This result justifies concern about the robustness of measurement scale properties of (shortened) sumscales, and by implication, of the empirical findings based on such scales.

KW - CESD

KW - Depression

KW - Likert scale

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KW - Metrology

KW - Ordinal

KW - Summated rating scale

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