Introduction

In this chapter the basic concepts of measurement and scaling are introduced and defined, distinguishing between the various types of measurement scale. The chapter goes on to describe and illustrate the comparative types of measurement scale, distinguishing and illustrating non-comparative types of measurement scale. Finally, single-item versus multiple-item scales are discussed.

Measurement is the process by which scores or numbers are assigned to the attributes of people or objects. How this is done is strongly influenced by the sort of information that is being sought. For example, if precise information on cigarette consumption is being sought, it is better to ask people to say how many cigarettes they smoke in a day. By contrast, when trying to collect information on the perceptions of cigarette smokers, it is better to ask people to classify themselves as heavy or light smokers. The two methods produce quite different kinds of measurement.

There are many different kinds of measurement-scaling technique. These scaling techniques often have different properties. It is necessary to understand the correct way to employ a technique because how a characteristic or trait is measured has implications for the interpretation and analysis of the data collected from using the technique.

First we look at some basic concepts of measurement and scaling and then distinguish between comparative and non-comparative scales. We then illustrate how these different scales are used and finally we compare single-item and multiple-item scales.

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