Best-Worst Scaling Improves Measurement of First Impressions

Nichola Burton, Michael Burton, Daniel Rigby, Clare Sutherland, Gillian Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A common goal in psychological research is the measurement of subjective impressions, such as first impressions of faces. These impressions are commonly measured using Likert ratings. Although these ratings are simple to administer, they are associated with response issues that can limit reliability. Here we examine best-worst scaling (BWS), a forced-choice method, as a potential alternative to Likert ratings for measuring participants’ facial first impressions. We find that at the group level, BWS scores correlated almost perfectly with Likert scores, indicating that the two methods measure the same impressions. However, at the individual participant level BWS outperforms Likert ratings, both in terms of ability to predict preferences in a third task, and in terms of test-retest reliability. These benefits highlight the power of BWS, particularly for use in individual differences research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCognitive Research: Principles and Implications
Early online date23 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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