Methods, Characteristics, Structure and Early History of
Attitude Measurement Scales
Measurement of attitudes is beneficial in various aspects of day to day life. Business, social and government research often rely on the measurement of respondents attitudes to guide decision and policy making. Specific research designs and methods are required to ensure useful and valid quantitative data are end results of attitude research projects. Ground breaking researchers in the field of Sociology and Psychology developed the first reliable attitude research and scaling techniques over 50 years ago that are still in use today.
An “attitude” is a theoretical entity constructed ...view middle of the document...
Commonly, however, “attitude measurements are concerned with the magnitude dimension and its direction; that is, the degree of favorableness or un-favorableness of a person with regard to a psychological object” (Arul, 2012, pg.1).
People have positive and negative attitudes toward various inputs and have them in varying degrees. But why should researchers study and measure these attitudes? According to Arul (2012), “Attitudes are action tendencies and as such they can facilitate or hinder action at all levels: individual, group, community, state, and national” (pg. 2). In addition,
Most managers hold the intuitive belief that changing consumers’ or employees’ attitudes toward their company or their company’s products or services is a major goal. Because modifying attitudes plays a pervasive role in developing strategies to address these goals, the measurement of attitudes is an important task…This attitude research can be directly channeled into managerial action (Zikmund, 2013, pg. 315-316).
How are attitudes measured? As mentioned previously, researchers arrive at measures of attitudes by inference. But they need data on which to base their inference. Such data are collected by various methods. However, before methods for measuring attitudes are discussed, there are some basic characteristics of measurement that should be considered in order to decide if an evaluation procedure is an effective one. According to Roberts, Laughlin and Wedell (1999),
Good tests have these characteristics. Basically, a quantitative approach to attitude measurement requires that measures (have) -
Validity: The instrument must be appropriate for what needs to be measured. In other words, a valid test measures the construct for which it is designed. A test of "attitude toward chemistry" will have items that deal directly with the concept of chemistry. Reliability: The measure should yield consistent results. In other words, if people were to take a reliable test a second time, they should obtain the same, or nearly the same, score as they got the first time they took the test, assuming no changes occurred between the two tests.
Simple to administer, explain, and understand: Generally, the measures that yield a single score of an attitude position epitomize the intent of this characteristic, although the single score may be deficient in meeting the intent of other characteristics of good measurement. Most tests of single attitudes have about 10 to 30 items, are valid, and have reliability estimates above .80.
Replicable: Someone else should be able to use the measure with a different group, or in a different situation, to measure the same attitude. Replicable tests of attitude should be usable in a variety of situations. In other words, a test of computer anxiety should measure the existence of that construct in college students, parents, elementary schools students, and even stockbrokers (pg. 211-212).