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Glossary » Thurstone scale

Thurstone scale

a way of measuring people’s attitudes along a single dimension by asking them to indicate that they agree or disagree with each of a large set of statements (e.g. 100) that are about that attitude. The statements are designed to be parallel in construction, but some toward one end of the scale and some toward the other end, and each trying to indicate the attitude in a slightly different way.

This can be contrasted with a Likert scale which asks someone to indicate their degree of agreement or disagreement with a single statement, e.g. a Likert scale would be “Please rate on a scale of 1 (disagree) to 7 (agree) the statement: This software was easy to use?” The corresponding Thurstone scale would state this question in multiple ways, eg.:

  • I had trouble finding what I wanted.
  • I liked how easy the software was.
  • The software has many convenient features.
  • The software was confusing.
  • etc.

Finally, to choose the statements people respond to, you need to validate them. For instance, you’d have expert judges (or pre-testing subjects) rate each of the statements in terms of to what extent they reflect either extreme of the attitude being measured.