Knowing the level of measurement of a variable is crucial when working out how to analyze the variable. Failing to correctly match the statistical method to a variable’s level of measurement leads either to nonsense or to misleading results.
Principal Component Analysis is really, really useful.
You use it to create a single index variable from a set of correlated variables.
In fact, the very first step in Principal Component Analysis is to create a correlation matrix (a.k.a., a table of bivariate correlations). The rest of the analysis is based on this correlation matrix.
You don’t usually see this step — it happens behind the scenes in your software.
Most PCA procedures calculate that first step using only one type of correlations: Pearson.
And that can be a problem. Pearson correlations assume all variables are normally distributed. That means they have to be truly [Read more…] about Principal Component Analysis for Ordinal Scale Items
These are especially hard to know how to analyze–some people treat them as numerical, others emphatically say not to. Everyone agrees nonparametric tests work, but these are limited to testing only simple hypotheses and designs. So what do you do if you want to test something more elaborate?
In this webinar we’re going to lay out all the options and when each is [Read more…] about Member Training: Analysis of Ordinal Variables–Options Beyond Nonparametrics
But even something so fundamental can be tricky once you start working with real data. [Read more…] about When a Variable’s Level of Measurement Isn’t Obvious
I was recently asked about whether it’s okay to treat a likert scale as continuous as a predictor in a regression model. Here’s my reply. In the question, the researcher asked about logistic regression, but the same answer applies to all regression models.
1. There is a difference between a likert scale item (a single 1-7 scale, eg.) and a full likert scale , which is composed of multiple items. If it is a full likert scale, with a combination of multiple items, go ahead and treat it as numerical. [Read more…] about Likert Scale Items as Predictor Variables in Regression
I first encountered the Great Likert Data Debate in 1992 in my first statistics class in my psychology graduate program.
My stats professor was a brilliant mathematical psychologist and taught the class unlike any psychology grad class I’ve ever seen since. Rather than learn ANOVA in SPSS, we derived the Method of Moments using Matlab. While I didn’t understand half of what was going on, this class roused my curiosity and led me to take more theoretical statistics classes. The rest is history.
A large section of the class was dedicated to the fact that Likert data was not interval and therefore not appropriate for statistics that assume normality such as ANOVA and regression. This was news to me. Meanwhile, most of the rest of the field either ignored or debated this assertion.
16 years later, the debate continues. A nice discussion of the debate is found on the Research Methodology blog by Hisham bin Md-Basir. It’s a nice blog with thoughtful entries that summarize methodological articles in the social and design sciences.
To be fair, though, this blog entry summarizes an article on the “Likert scales are not interval” side of the debate. For a balanced listing of references, see Can Likert Scale Data Ever Be Continuous?