The Likert Scale
I know this is a little late in terms of technology and updates, but if you’re on Facebook you’ve noticed that the traditional “like” system has replaced itself with an optional range of emoticons. From “like” to “love” to “haha”, “wow”, “sad”, and “angry”; this new system allows interaction between social media aficionados to be more complex than ever before. It’s more than obvious why Facebook turned to this new system: a major flaw that’s plagued simple conversation since the beginning of instant messaging. Users have been forced to “like” messages coming from grieving widows and cancer patients. A bit of an, erm, awkward experience from both sides if you really think about it.
In case you don’t have a Facebook account, here’s a picture of the “Likert Scale” Facebook has set up:
With this addition to Facebook’s software, there’s a way to properly respond to any type of post. Someone’s dog died? Instead of “liking” it like before, try leaving a “sad” face. It’s a bit of an upgrade comparative to the like-dislike idea users have had for years, giving more than just one or two separate emotions as a way to express yourself.
Of course, this post is a little late. It’s been at least a couple months since the social media site set up this ‘likert’ system. I’ve seen some people really upset about the “goofy” emoticons and some people thankful for something more than the orthodox “like”. But, it’s not just “goofy emoticons” or “more options”, like people tend to think of it. From a psychological sense, Facebook is using something called — if you haven’t clued in by now — the LIKERT SCALE.
A Likert scale is a scale involved in questionnaires with the idea of conducting meaningful research. We’ve all seen and involved ourselves with the scale before, even without realizing it. Not just because it’s the most widely used approach in terms of surveys and interviews, but also because it can be implicated in just about, well, anything. A psychometric scale that allows people of all reading abilities to respond to questions of interest through five or more individual ‘ratings’, a Likert scale can immediately assess people’s attitudes through a majority of subjects at hand.
The scale is named after its rather famous inventor, an American social psychologist by the name of Rensis Likert. If you’re interested in social psychology, you should check out some of his most important works: Human Organization; Management and Value is a fantastic read and New Ways of Managing Conflict is even better. Regardless, his work on his Likert scale created a template for success in sociological surveys and business management. Nowadays, it’s used in everything from government forms to online flash questionnaires; the systematic approach of the Likert scale has revolutionized research in such simple ways. That’s the mindset Facebook had for the year it took their staff to create the perfect set of emoticons to use for expressing opinions.
Now of course, Facebook’s set up isn’t an exact replica of the famous Likert scale, seeing that it’s attached to an infinite amount of posts rather than a set amount of questions in a survey. But, with Facebook’s style and setup, it’s easy to see the implications the universal scale had on them.
It’s interesting to see how it took a website dedicated to expressing opinions and emotions to change from a singular method of “liking” to an actual “Likert” scale.