Measurement of Attitude

The concept of attitude was created to indicate some underlying response tendencies. Since attitudes are hypothetical constructs, they cannot be precisely measured. Any attempt to evaluate them must be inferential, which means that we can only examine behavior that is logically inferred to indicate the attitudes that are to be measured and quantify these indications to get a sense of how much individuals or groups differ in their psychological orientations toward a specific object or issue.

How do we Measure Attitudes?

Attitudes measurements are determined by inference. However, to support the inference, some data are needed. These data are gathered using several techniques. The respondents may be explicitly questioned about their feelings regarding the topic of the study, given a task with clear instructions, and their performance record. Let us go into detail about some techniques

Direct Observation

This approach records the real behavior of those whose attitudes are being investigated. It is an objective approach that works effectively in some situations. For instance, it is excellent to see the overt behavior of strikers by taking part in the strike itself to get a sense of their attitude. However, not all issues are amenable to direct observation. In some circumstances, it is possible to simulate a natural context and engage in role-playing to observe behavior and deduce an individual's underlying attitude. If we want to collect data on many people, direct behavior observation is not practical, even when accessibility is not an issue. In addition to seeing every person in a big sample, it is impossible to predict when a person would display the behavior pertinent to the study. Thus, in addition to the significant expense and work required, endless patience may also be required. Establishing the reliability of behavioral measurements of attitudes is equally challenging. The observers' impressions and capacity to communicate what they have seen vary widely. However, none of the flaws indicates that observing overt behavior is useless for determining attitudes. They advise us to exercise caution while determining if this strategy is appropriate in a particular circumstance.

Direct Questioning

It is natural to question individuals directly about their feelings if we want to know how they feel about something. Therefore, asking direct questions has been appealing for researching attitudes. Even yet, this method's limited use is confined to generally categorizing responders as favorably, unfavorably, and indifferent about a psychological object. In this case, the issue is the same as the one that frequently arises when direct observation is used; typically, neither direct observation nor direct inquiry determines the level of attitudes a person possesses. With such an index, we can distinguish between individuals within the favorable and unfavorable categories and determine how far apart the two groups are from one another. Of course, there may be occasions when we merely need to know how many people are "for" and how many are "against" a certain topic. Direct questions might be effective in this situation. We must know that responses to direct questions can be tainted by constraining and social desirability factors.

Some Other Approaches

Many of the challenges associated with direct observation can be successfully overcome using projective techniques and objective assignments that conceal the attitude objects. However, due to the low reliability in interpreting such data, these methods are only sometimes employed for gauging attitudes. Additional indicators of attitudes include heart rate, pupil size, vascular constriction, and galvanic skin response (GSR) measurements. However, these physiological arousals may not always distinguish between attitudes. For example, the galvanic skin response equipment may register similar values for positive and negative tendencies. There are undoubtedly instances where physiological measures have been employed carefully and profitably.

Scaling Techniques

The tools for measuring attitudes have been developed by management researchers drawing on the expertise of sociologists and psychologists. Understanding the ideas and fundamental attitudes that underlie human behavior is required to change it in the desired direction. Scaling methods and scales come in a wide variety. For the research being conducted, we must select the most effective technique. The following are the most used scales.

Nominal Scale

The nominal scale divides responses into several mutually exclusive groups. Since there are no connections between the categories, there is also no ranking or sorting. The nominal scale is frequently used to categorize responses by social class, "like" or "dislike," "yes" or "no," sex, and other factors. For nominally scaled data, the only feasible statistical procedure is counting.

Ordinal Scale

The ordinal scale enables respondents to rank various options based on a shared variable. An example of this would be how consumers ranked three brands of pasteurized milk according to perceived quality. Here, a product user can rank the brands from best to worst. However, it is impossible to determine how much the ranks differ. Positional statistical measures like the median and mode can only be computed for such data.

Interval Scale

The interval scale addresses the shortcomings of the nominal and ordinal scales. The scale's zero point is arbitrary, and the numbers are spaced at uniform intervals. Interval scaled data can be used for various statistical procedures, such as addition, subtraction, and calculating the mean. When measuring attitudes, nominal and ordinal scales are most frequently utilized. To make the data more amenable to statistical procedures, there are attempts to treat them or transform them into interval scales. However, before drawing any conclusions, it is important to determine whether this assumption is reasonable.


Each approach to gauging attitudes has advantages and disadvantages of its own. For a particular study, one approach might be more suited than another, while the same method might be incorrect in another situation. Therefore, many approaches are only sometimes effective or appropriate. However, according to the attitude-measuring literature, self-report methods have mostly been employed. Other methods outside self-reporting have been tested, and their usefulness has been shown and supported. However, self-report measurements using pen and paper continue to dominate the field.

Updated on: 26-Dec-2022

3K+ Views

Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started