[R] Comparing a 4-point and 5-point Likert scale

From: Simon Kiss <sjkiss_at_gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 03 Jun 2010 15:11:42 +0200

Help with survey data:
Hello R colleagues,
I hope this is an appropriate place to direct this question. It relates specifically to the comparability of a 5-point likert to a 4- point likert scale.

One question in my dataset asks "How much should be done to reduce the gap between rich and poor"
Much more, somewhat more, about the same, somewhat less and much less.

The second questions ask:
"People who can afford to, should be able to pay for their own health care"
strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly agree.

Now, assuming that I rescale them so that 1 equals the most egalitarian position and the highest number (4 or 5) equals the least egalitarian position, how can I make these two results comparable.

Two ways come to mind: one is to collapse both into a dichotomous variable and do a logistic regression on both. The danger here is that I have to decide what to do with the middle position in the first question, assign it to the egalitarian or non-egalitarian category. A second way would be to multiply the scores in the first question by 4 (to get results that are either 4, 8, 12, 16 or 20) and then multiply the second question by five to get responses that are either 5, 10, 15 or 20. My idea is then to add the two, average them and use that value as an index of economic egalitarianism? Yes / no? Suggestions?
I am an R user and I hope that a purely statistical question is not especially misplaced.
Yours truly,
Simon Kiss

Simon J. Kiss, PhD
SSHRC and DAAD Post-Doctoral Fellow
John F. Kennedy Institute of North America Studies Free University of Berlin
Lansstraße 7-9
14195 Berlin, Germany
Cell: +49 (0)1525-300-2812,
Web: http://www.jfki.fu-berlin.de/index.html

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