Pollsters do it with precision. Theorists do it with conceptual flair. Survey researchers do it for a living. “It, ” of course, is designing questionnaires to measure attitudes!
Puns and double entendres aside, attitude measurement plays a critical role in the study and practice of persuasion. It is the practical side of the field, the down-to-earth domain that provides the instrumentation to test hypotheses and to track changes in attitudes and beliefs. If there were no reliable scientific techniques to measure attitudes, we would not know how people evaluated social and political issues. We would not know the impact that persuasive communications had on people's feelings and thoughts. Documenting the effects of large-scale media campaigns would permanently elude us.
This chapter explores the main themes in attitude measurement. It describes scales used to tap attitudes, as well as the pitfalls and challenges researchers face when trying to empirically assess attitudes. After reading this chapter, you should know more about how to write good attitude questions and how to locate valid surveys that measure specific attitudes,
Attitude questionnaires date back to 1928. It was in this year that psychologist Louis Thurstone published an article titled “Attitudes Can Be Measured. ” Thurstone proposed an elaborate procedure to assess people's views on social issues. Although measurement techniques have been streamlined over the years, Thurstone “started the fire. ” We now have established methodologies for assessing attitudes. What's more,