Objective: We investigated elementary school children's ability to use a variety of Likert response formats to respond to concrete and abstract items.
Methods: 111 children, aged 6-13 years, responded to 2 physical tasks that required them to make objectively verifiable judgments, using a 5-point response format. Then, using 25 items, we ascertained the consistency between responses using a "gold standard" yes/no format and responses using 5-point Likert formats including numeric values, as well as word-based frequencies, similarities to self, and agreeability.
Results: All groups responded similarly to the physical tasks. For the 25 items, the use of numbers to signify agreement yielded low concordance with the yes/no answer format across age-groups. Formats based on words provided higher, but not perfect, concordance for all groups.
Conclusions: Researchers and clinicians need to be aware of the limited understanding that children have of Likert response formats. © 2013 The Author 2013.