n Management Dynamics : Journal of the Southern African Institute for Management Scientists - The reliability and validity of the item means and standard deviations of ordinal level response data

Volume 14, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1019-567X



The debate over the appropriate analysis of ordinal level survey data has lasted for many decades. One school of thought maintains that the data can generally be regarded as interval level, whereas another asserts that the data should be rescaled before subjecting it to statistical analysis. In this study, an alternative, algorithmic rather than an arithmetic, approach is described, which involves the fitting of distributions to the observed survey data using the c 2 statistic. This distribution-fitting approach is compared to the approach that assumes an interval level scale, and the rescaling approach that uses correspondence analysis. Using a bootstrap resampling methodology, the analysis confirms that survey results may be flawed if ordinal level scales are assumed to be interval level, or if the correspondence analysis approach is applied inappropriately. The distribution-fitting approach is found to have accuracy and validity that is superior to the alternative approaches.

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