Evaluation of social cognitive scaling response options in the physical activity domain




Rhodes, Ryan E.
Matheson, D. H.
Mark, R.

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Measurement in physical education and exercise science


The purpose of this study was to compare the reliability, variability, and predictive validity of two common scaling response formats (semantic differential, Likert-type) and two numbers of response options (5-point, 7-point) in the physical activity domain. Constructs of the theory of planned behavior were chosen in this analysis based on its high frequency of application in exercise and physical activity. The participants were 412 undergraduate students who completed measures of the theory of planned behavior and self-reported physical activity two weeks later. One of four questionnaires, each containing a scaling response format, were distributed randomly and formed four groups of approximately n = 100 for comparisons (5-point Likert, 5-point semantic differential, 7-point Likert, 7-point semantic differential). Results showed that the 7-point options had greater variability than the 5-point options and that the 7-point Likert scale had the highest overall reliability. These differences, however, did not translate into predictive validity of behavior. The findings support the use of all of these types of scales with physical activity research because of their relatively equivalent outcomes.



Likert scaling, semantic differential scaling, theory of planned behavior, physical activity


Rhodes, R. E., Matheson, D. H., & Mark, R. (2010). Evaluation of social cognitive scaling response options in the physical activity domain. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science, 14, 137-150, https://doi.org/10.1080/1091367X.2010.495539