Attitude Measurement

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It would be impossible to make any judgments about how certain variables affect attitudes if there were no way to measure attitudes. The attitude scale is used widely when an investigator wishes to measure the attitudes of individuals. When he wishes to measure public opinion, he may use one of several public-opinion polling procedures.

This section will cover the attitude scale and some of the techniques used in public-opinion polling. As you read the text, keep the following questions in mind.


An attitude scale measures the intensity of attitudes

An attitude scale is made up of a series of numbered statements. These statements are constructed in a way to indicate a positive or negative attitude toward the subject. When all the statements are constructed, the scale is handed out to a large group of judges The judges rate each statement according to its positive or negative character. This scale is rated by using numbers from 1 to 11. Number 1 is the most favorable statement and number 11 the least favorable statement. The ratings by the judges are averaged and a numerical value is assigned to each of the statements. This numerical value is called the scale value.

A classical scale for measuring attitudes toward the church, constructed by Thurstone and Chave (1929), is shown in Figure 4

The best way to understand how an attitude scale operates is to scale your own attitude by responding to the questions in Figure 4. To obtain your score, arrange in rank order the scale values for the statements you check. Your final score will be the scale value of the middle statement. Thus, if you check statements with the following values: 4.7, 6.9, 7.2, 8.6, 9.6, your final score will be 7.2, which is the median.


Check every statement below that expresses your attitude toward the church. That is. I you agree with the statement place a check mark In front of it.

1. I think the teaching of the church Is altogether too superficial to have much social significance f8 3)
2 I feel the church services give me inspiration and help me live up to my best during the following meek (1 7)
3 I think the church keeps business and politics up to a higher standard than they would otherwise tend to maintain /2 6)
4 I find the services of the church both restful and inspiring. (2 3)
5. When I go to church I enjoy a fine ritual service with good music (4 0)
6. I believe in what the church teaches but with mental reservations. (4 5)
7 I do not receive any benefit from attending church services but I think it helps some people. (5 7)
8 I believe in religion but I seldom go to church. 5 4
9 1 am careless about religion and church relationships but I would not like to see my attitude become general (4.7)
10 I regard the church as a static crystallized institution and as such it is unwholesome and detrimental to society (10 5)
11. I believe church membership is almost essential to living life al its best. (15) 36.
12. I do not understand the dogmas or creeds of the church. but I find that the church 37
helps me to be more honest and creditable. (3.1)
13. The paternal and benevolent attitude of the church is quite distasteful to me. (8.2)
14. I feel that church attendance is a fair index of the nation's morality (2.6)
15. Sometimes I feel that the church and religion are necessary and sometimes I doubt
it. (5.6)
16. I believe the church is fundamentally sound but some of its adherents have given
it a bad name (3.9)
17. I think the church is a parasite on society. (11.0)
18. I feel the need for religion but do not find what I want in any one church (6.1)
19. I think too much money is being spent on the church for the benefit that is being
derived. (7.5)
20. I believe in the church and its teachings because I have been accustomed to them
since I was a child. (4.0)
21. I think the church is hundreds of years behind the times and cannot make a dent
on modern life. (9.5)
22. I believe the church has grown up with the primary purpose of perpetuating the spirit and teachings of Jesus and deserves loyal support. (1.0)
23 reel the church perpetuates the values which man puts highes; In his or osophy of life 10 8}
24 I feel I can worship God better out of doors than m the church and I get more inspiration there
(6 9)
25 Sty experience is that the church is hopelessly out of date (9 1 }
26 i feel the church is petty. always quarreling over matters that have no interest or ~mponance
is 6)
2i I do not believe in any brand of religion or m any particular church but I hare never given the
subject serious thought (s 9)
28 I respect any church-member's beliefs but I think it is all .4bunk '(8.8)
29, enjoy my church because there is a spirit of friendliness there. (3.3)
30 I think the country would be better off if the churches were closed and the ministers set to
some useful work. (105)
31 I behave the church IS the greatest instnution in America today (0 2)
32 I behave in sincerity and goodness without any church cererronies. (6 71
33 I believe the church IS the greatest influence for good government and right living. t0 4)
34. I think the organized church is an enemy of science and truth. (10 7)
I believe the church is losing ground as education advances. (7.4)
35. The churches may be doing good and useful work but they do not interest me. (5.9)
I think the church is a hindrance to religion for it still depends upon magic. superstition. and myth (9.6)

38 The church is needed to develop religion which has always been concerned with man s
deepest feelings and greatest values. (1.4)
39. I believe the churches are too much divided by factions and denominations to be a strong
force for righteousness. (7.2)
40 The church represents shallowness hypocrisy and prejudice. (104)

41 I think the church seeks to impose a lot of worn-out dogmas and medieval supersti~ tions.
(9.2) 42. I think the church allows denominational differences to appear larger than true religion. (7 2)
43. I like the ceremonies of my church but do not miss them much when I stay away. (5t)
44. I believe the church is a powerful agency for promoting both individual and social
nghtepusness. (1.2)
45 I like to go to church for I get something worthwhile to think about and it keeps my mind filled
with right thoughts. (2.2)

From The Measurement of Attitude by L. Thurstone and E Chave. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press 1929.

Figure 4. Attitude Scale


If you agreed with an even number of statements, your final score is the average of the two center values. Thus, if you check statements with the values 4.7, 6.9, 7.2, and 8.6, your final score will be: 69+ 72/2 = 7.05

The score can be interpreted as follows: a number above 6 would indicate a negative attitude toward the church; a number below 6 would indicate a positive attitude toward the church.

The attitude scale is used to measure the attitude of an individual. Public opinion polls, however, are conducted with people who represent a sample of some particular group. The group may be those who vote in a particular district, or those who smoke. It is not easy to get members of this sample to sit down and fill out long, complicated forms. Therefore, interviews are conducted face to face. Each is asked questions which are rather simple, and a range of subjects is covered.

Expressed attitudes are hea v fly influenced by the way questions are phrased

In a public-opinion poll, a single question must serve as a measure of an attitude, whereas many statements are used in the attitude scale. For this reason, the phrasing of an item is a matter of extreme importance and makes a great difference in the outcome of the poll.

In general, there are two types of questions used in polling. One type gives the subject fixed alternatives. An example is, "Would you like to see more family films, fewer family films, or about the same as are shown now?" In this question the subject has the opportunity to choose among three responses: 'more, fewer, about the same."

Some questions used are open ended; they allow the respondent to phrase his answer in his own words. In practice, however, the interviewer has a number of possible alternatives to the question already coded, and after listening to the respondent, he simply checks one of the possibilities. The fixed-alternative questions are easier to administer. However, inaccuracy can creep in because the answers may be restricted in a way that does not reflect the subject's true opinion. In the example given earlier, the subject may feel that there should be more of a certain type of family film and fewer of others. "About the same" does not really reflect this opinion. In addition, rela tively minor differences in wording can greatly affect the result, which often leads to complete misinterpretations of the respondents' attitudes.

During World War II, two polling agencies asked the following questions:
a. "After the war would you like to see the United States join some kind of world organization, or would you like to see us stay out?" (National Opinion Research Center, January, 1945).
b. "Do you think that the United States should join a world organization with police power to maintain world peace?" (American Institute of Public Opinion, April, 1945).

To the first question, 64 percent responded in favor of joining and 26 percent were against. To the second question, 81 percent responded "yes" and 11 percent "no." A large part of the difference in the results between these two questions is the use of the phrase "maintain world peace." Pollsters know that inserting any phrase which by itself is generally approved, increases the number of approvals of the question as a whole. The problem in sampling is to ensure that the sample is typical of the population

In general, there are two ways of constructing samples so that they represent the population. The first is probability sampling. The names are arranged randomly, and one constructs the sample by picking every nth name. This technique is widely used when the target population has been recorded on a list. The great danger in this method is that the list may not represent the population.


When the population is not on some kind of list, pollsters may use area sampling. They divide an area into small units and assign a number to each unit. They then select areas to be included in the sample. From each area, they randomly select a number of dwelling units. This technique yields accurate results, but is expensive.

The second major technique is quota sampling. Quota sampling is based on the assumption that a sample can be an accurate miniature of the larger population. If important sociological groups are represented in the sample in the same proportion in which they occur in the population, accuracy can be as- sured. Interviewers are told how many women to interview, how many people over five years of age, and so forth. It is then left up to the interviewer as to how he will manage to fill his quota. Interviewers, however, tend to select the person most cooperative, or the person at home, or the house that seems somewhat better kept. Thus, biases can creep into the sample. In any case, public-opinion polling has become increasingly accurate. Though polls occa- sionally result in inaccurate predictions, the long-term trend has been toward an ever-decreasing percentage of error.



Now test yourself without looking back.

Selected Items:

1. A country cannot amount to much without a national honor, and war is the only means of preserving it. (1.3)
2. When war is declared, we must enlist. (2.5)
3. Wars are justifiable only when waged in defense of weaker nations. (5.2)
4. Peace and war are both essential to progress. (5.4)
5. The most that we can hope to accomplish is the partial elimination of war. (5.6)
6. The disrespect for human life and rights involved in a war is a cause of crime waves. (8.4)
7. All nations should disarm immediately. (10.6)

(Droba, 1930)

1. Look at the attitude scale above. An individual is asked to check those items which represent his views. The series of statements is called a(n)________________________________

2. Suppose the individual checked statements 1, 2, and 3. His score is_______________________

3. Suppose the individual checked statements 3, 4, 5, and 6. His score is______________________

4. Match.

1 ) Open ended_____________

2) Fixed alternative________________

a. Would you like to see more foreign trade, less, or about the same amount as we have now?
b. How do you feel about government control of prices?
c. Would you like to see more money spent on pollution control, less, or about the same amount that we are now spending?


5. Match the sampling technique with an example.

1 ) Probability sampling ______________

2) Area sampling_______________

3) Quota sampling__________________

a. The voting district is divided into small units. Dwellings are selected randomly within the units.
b. Names on a list of new-car buyers are arranged randomly. The pollster selects every third name.
c. The interviewer is responsible for interviewing 10 percent over 50, 3 percent under 10, and so on.

6. The inclusion of a phrase that has general approval will:
a. increase the unfavorable responses to a question.
b. increase the favorable responses to a question.
c. have no effect on the outcome of the poll.





An attitude scale consists of a series of statements about a particular subject. Judges rate each statement, usually on a scale from 1 to 11. The scale value assigned to each statement is the average of the numbers assigned by the judges. The individual checks the statements that agree with his views. Suppose the individual checks statements with the following values, arranged in order: 1.2,1.6, 2.4, 4.8, 4.9. His score is the median value, 2.4. Suppose he checks an even number of statements with the values: 1.2, 1.6, 2.4, 4.8. His score is the average of the two center values.

Thus 1.6 + 2.4/2 = 2 0

Compute scores for the values given below.

a. 4.2,6.3,6.4,6.5,7.1____________

b. 1.2, 1.6, 2.2, 4.8________________


There are basically two types of questions used in public-opinion polling. A fixed-alternative question requires the respondent to choose among the alternatives given. An open-ended question allows the respondent to phrase his answer in his own words. Write "fixed alternative" or "open ended" next to each of the questions below.

a. How do you feel birth control?________________

b. Would you like to see more space exploration, less, or about the same amount as we have now?_____________________

c. Do you feel that churches should have tax advantages?____________________

The phrasing of a question can affect the outcome of the poll. The inclusion of any phrase that has general approval will make the results more favorable. Read the two questions below.
1. Do you feel we should have a campaign for birth control to reduce poverty and hunger?
2. Do you feel that the government should support a campaign for birth control?

You would expect the results to be:
a. more favorable to question 1 than to question 2.
b. the same for both questions.
c. more favorable to question 2 than to question 1.


To obtain a sample for opinion polling, there are three major techniques: probability sampling, area sampling, and quota sampling. Match each technique with a description.

1) Probability sampling_____________

2) Area sampling______________

3) Ouota sampling________________

a. Names on a list are arranged in order. This gives each name an equal probability of appearing in the sample. The pollster selects each nth name.

b. The interviewer questions everyone who goes into the supemmarket between 1 and 3 p.m.

c. The pollster calculates the percentages of major social categories that appear in the population. The interviewer attempts to get the same percentages in his sample.

d. The geographical unit is divided into small areas. Dwellings are selected from a number of geographical areas.

___________________________________ 2


a. a. open ended
b. fixed altemafive
c. fixed alternative

2 1) a
2) d
3) c

3 a. 6.4
b. 1.9

4 a


If you have reason to believe that the target population does not appear on a list, you would not use:
a. probability sampling where you select every nth name.
b. quota sampling.
c. area sampling.

When the interviewer is allowed to choose respondents within cer categories, he may choose the most cooperative. Thus, biases may creep into the results of:
a. probability sampling. b. quota sampling. c. area sampling.

On an attitude scale. an individual checked statements with the following values:

6.4. 2.8. 3.6. 1.2

His score is___________________________________________1

Write the type of sampling technique used in each of the examples below:

a. For a poll of voters in a particular district, the pollster obtained a list of all registered voters. He arranged the names in random order and selected every fourth name for the sample.________________________________

b. For a population of all salaried persons. the pollster used a list from the tax rolls. He arranged the names in random order and picked every tenth name.___________________________

c. The pollster determined the percentages of certain social categories within the total population. He then told the interviewers to get a certain number of respondents for each category._____________________________________________________________2



1. 3.2

2 a. probability sampling
b. probability sampling
c. quota sampling

3 b

4 a



1. An individual checks statements 1, 5, and 6 on the following panel:


Selected Statements:
1. Abortion is murder. (1.2)
2. All males over 30 should be sterilized. (10 2)
3. Couples should be encouraged to have only two children. (7.1)
4. Parents should be taxed for having more than two children. (8.2)
5. People should be allowed to have as many children as they want without any controls. (1.6)
6. I feel that all forms of birth control are immoral. (1.5)

His score will be _______________________

2. A series of statements measuring attitudes toward a particular topic is called a(n)___________________________

3.An individual checks statements with the values 6.2, 7.1, 7.3, and 8.2. His score will be _______________

4. In a public opinion poll, the number of favorable responses will increase when the question contains___________________________

5. Match sampling Technique with an example.

1) Probability sampling _________

2) Area sampling_________

3) Quota sampling__________

a. The interviewer chooses a certain number of respondents within each of several social categories.
b. The names on a list are arranged in random order. The pollster selects every 95th name.
c. The state is divided into geographical units. Dwellings are chosen from some of these units.


6. Match the type of question with an example.

1 ) Fixed alternative .___________

2) Open ended ______________

a. All forms of birth control are immoral.
b. Would you like to see more educational TV programs, fewer, or about the same number as shown now?
c. How do you feel about sales taxes? ;




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