Interval Scale

Interval scales (definition of interval scale) take the notion of ranking items in order one step further, since the distance between adjacent points on the scale are equal. For instance, the Fahrenheit scale is an interval scale, since each degree is equal but there is no absolute zero point. This means that although we can add and subtract degrees (100° is 10° warmer than 90°), we cannot multiply values or create ratios (100° is not twice as warm as 50°). What is important in determining whether a scale is considered interval or not is the underlying intent regarding the equal intervals: although in an IQ scale, the intervals are not necessarily equal (e.g. the difference between 105 and 110 is not really the same as between 80 and 85), behavioural scientists are willing to assume that most of their measures are interval scales as this allows the calculation of of averages mode, median and mean, the range and standard deviation.

Although Likert scales are really ordinal scales, they are often treated as interval scales. By treating this type of agreement scale or attitudinal measurement as interval, researchers can calculate mean scores which can then be compared. For instance, the level of agreement for men was 3.5 compared to 4.1 for women, or it was 3.3 for first time visitors compared to 2.8 for repeat visitors.