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Attitude scale- Differential scale, cumulative (bogardus) scale


  • The first formal technique for measuring an attitude.
  • It was developed by Louis Leon Thurstone in 1928.
  • This scale is used to measure the social phenomenon
  • It is made up of statements about a particular issue, and each statement has a numerical value indicating how favorable or unfavorable it is judged to be. Judges will determine the positions on the scale. The position is determined by the method of equal appearing intervals.
  • Judges will work independently to classify these statements into 11 groups.

1st group – Unfavorable statements to the specified issue    (score-11)

2nd group – The next unfavorable statements and so on.

11th group – Favorable statements (score-1)

6th group- The point at which the attitude is neutral.

  • The scale value of a statement is computed as the ‘mean’ or ‘median’ position to which it is assigned by the judges.
  • The evaluated statements spread out evenly from one extreme to the other.
  • The respondents are asked to check the statements with which they agree. The scale values are not shown in the questionnaire and the statements are arranged randomly.
  • The mean or median of the scale values of the items are checked by the respondent indicates his position in the scale.
  • A series of statements whose positions have been determined are placed neutrally by the judges.
  • The scattered responses of an individual imply that the respondent has no definite and organized attitude towards the phenomenon.

Three different methods for developing a unidimensional scale:

  • Method of equal-appearing intervals;
  • Method of successive intervals,
  • Method of paired comparisons.

The three methods differed in how the scale values for items were constructed, but in all three cases, the resulting scale was rated the same way by respondents.

  • The method of equal- appearing intervals, in which a large pool of candidate statements about an attitude object, ranging from strongly negative (Abortion is never justified) through neutral (There are arguments both for and against abortion) to strongly positive (Abortion is every woman’s right), are sorted by a group of judges into eleven categories.
  • They are assumed to appear equally spaced on the attitude continuum, according to how favorable the statements are towards the attitude object.
  • Items that yield the highest level of agreement among the judges as to their scale position, and that collectively represent an adequate range of contents and scale positions, are then selected for the final scale. Respondents to the scale endorse just those items with which they agree, and an individual respondent’s score is calculated as the mean (or occasionally median) of the items endorsed, such scores being assumed to lie on an interval scale of measurement.


    • Time requirement being fairly high
    • Influence of scale positions by the attitudes of the judges,
    • No information on the degree or intensity of agreement with the different items.


  • In the cumulative scale, a respondent is given a number of questions, to express agreement or disagreement over an issue.
  • The items are arranged in such a way that a respondent who responds favorably to item number 2 also replies favorably to item number 1 and one who replies favorably to item number 3 also replies favorably to items 1 and 2, and so on. Therefore, the individuals who answer favorably have higher total score than those who answer unfavorably.
  • The score of an individual is computed by counting the number of items he answers favorably. His scores indicate for him a particular position on the scale. The intervals between the positions may not be equal.
  • The items may be arranged from favorableness to unfavorablenesss in a systematic manner or may be randomly selected.

The purpose of social distance scale is to measure the attitude towards a particular racial group or groups. The Bogardus type scale is given below

RelationshipI would accept English Negro French Chinese
Marriage 1 1 1 1
Friendship 2 2 2 2
Neighbor 3 3 3 3
Employment in same occupation 4 4 4 4
Citizenship in my country 5 5 5 5
Visitors to my country 6 6 6 6
Exclusion from my country 7 7 7 7


The respondent is to circle each of the seven categories to which he is willing to accept particular group. The respondent’s first feeling reactions can be known by this. For a group, if a respondent circles 3, he is also expected to circle 4 and 5 for the same group. If a respondent does not circle 3, he will most probably not circle 1 and 2, for these indicate even closer relationship. The seven categories indicate a gradually increasing social distance.

The social distance can also be calculated mathematically. In order to do this, weights are attached to different categories of relationships. Thus, if there are only five categories, the weights such as 1,2,3,4 and 5 can be assigned to the first five categories respectively. The following procedure is generally adopted for the measurement of social distance

  1. Place the weights and percentage response for each category in rows.
  2. Multiply the percentage response by its weight.
  3. Add up the product and this will be the social distance.

In the Bogardus scale, the score does not indicate the exact extent or degree of preferred of a group over the other. One important difficulty in this type of scale is that one may not be fully acquainted with a group and hence it is not possible for him to state the attitude. The influence of an individual member or members may not be eliminated from the mind while making preferences.