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Attitude scale- Scalogram (Guttman) scale, Q- Sort Scale


  • Named after the US psychologist Louis H. Guttman (1916–87).
  • It is constructed by the method of scalogram analysis in which a large pool of candidate statements about an attitude object (such as Euthanasia is morally wrong; Euthanasia should be legalized, and so on) are administered to a group of respondents who mark just those items with which they agree, and from these responses a set of items is selected that can be arranged into a hierarchy with as few errors (deviations from a perfect linear hierarchy) as possible.
  • The Scalogram analysis is a simple method of the testing the scalability of the statements. The views of judges are not necessary in this case. A diagram in which the individual responses are laid out is called a scalogram. The perfect scale implies that a person who answers a given question favorably will have a higher total score than a person who answers it unfavorably.
  • Guttman scale having relatively few errors as indexed by a reproducibility (Rep) of at least 0.90, implying that the scale is unidimensional, measuring only one major attitude variable. A simple example of a Guttman scale is a social distance scale.
  • It applies to series of items in other kinds of tests, such as achievement tests, that have binary outcomes. For example, a test of math achievement might order questions based on their difficulty and instruct the examinee to begin in the middle. The assumption is if the examinee can successfully answer items of that difficulty (e.g., summing two 3-digit numbers), s/he would be able to answer the earlier questions (e.g., summing two 2-digit numbers).
  • Guttman model is deterministic in nature. It assumes that a person, who responds positively/negatively to one item, must respond positively/negatively to a series of others. The model can be made probabilistic rather than deterministic. This attempt has been made by ‘Latent Structure Analysis’, as developed by Lazarsfeld.
  • Guttman has also developed another technique. According to this, the respondent not only gives his view (agreement or disagreement) but he also mentions the intensify (degree) which is classified into five categories. For each respondent, we thus get two scores (content score and intensity sore) which can be plotted against each other on a graph. The result often gives U-shaped curve. The more extreme views have highest intensity. The content score at the lowest point of the curve may be regarded as the dividing line between favorable and unfavorable responses. The lowest point suggesting favorable response is not affected by the form and the wording of the individual items. Hence, this method is objective.

The items in the questionnaire which relate to this could consist of the following

Yes /No


1)    Family planning is the best hope for our country        ………………


2)    Family planning would lead to healthier children         ………………


3)    We should all participate in the family planning programme. …………


  • Usually a person, who answers YES to 1, would have a high probability of answering as YES to the subsequent statements. Any person who does not answer as YES to 1 but does answer as YES to 2 would have a high probability of answering YES to the later items. Any set of items that produces a pattern of responses as we have described here is called a Guttman Scale.
  • Guttman scale analysis is usually applied to dichotomous data, i.e., data with only two values, YES or NO, 0 or 1, agree or disagree, etc. However, a number of reasons have made the Guttman scale and impractical tool for the measurement of attitudes. First, the construction of the scale requires a lot of time and effort. Secondly, there may be very few items existing that may fit the model. Since such scales seldom have more than eight items, they can make only rather gross distinctions among respondents.


    • The method is widely applied in the study of personality.
    • The peculiar characteristic of this methodology is that here it is more important to make comparisons among different responses within respondents than between respondents. Thus it is a comparative rather than an absolute rating method.
    • The individual can make a study changes in his own image or in his ideal person and so on.
    • The data yielded by the Q-sort can be summarized into a single score, as in a summated scale, to yield a scale on ‘adjustment’.
    • The adjustment score of the control group can be compared with the therapists’ ratings of the success of therapy, and the extent of agreement can be known. The technique can also be applied to the study of various types of socio-economic attitudes.
    • In the area of management, the application of Q-sort has come up in marketing research. Here the respondents may be requested to enunciate their images of their ideal brands, specified brands and their current brand. The respondent may be given a large number of statements (50-100) describing the characteristics of a product.
    • For instance for a cosmetic product like shampoo he may be asked to compare alternatives with adjectives like “easy to use”, “economical”, and “safe for children”, with instructions to array them along the continuum “least preferred – the ideal shampoo”. Essentially what the respondents have done here is to array the attributes along the scale.
    • The Q-sort technique is faster and less tedious for subjects than paired comparison measures. It also forces the subject to conform to quotas at each point of the scale so as to yield a normal or quasi-normal distribution.