MEASUREMENT PROPERTIES OF FEELING THERMOMETERS
Feeling thermometers are survey items that ask respondents to evaluate stimulus objects on a rating scale that ranges from zero to one hundred. Batteries of feeling thermometer items have been included in the American National Election Studies since 1968 to gauge public reactions to candidates and public figures, political parties, social groups, and government institutions. Despite the frequency with which they are used in the research community, the feeling thermometer items have recently been the subject of criticism due to problematic measurement characteristics. Questions have been raised about their reliability, level of measurement, and susceptibility to differential item functioning. Because of these potential problems, there have been calls to discontinue their use in public opinion research. To the contrary, I contend that these criticisms are overdrawn and are not based on systematic assessments of the feeling thermometers' measurement characteristics. Careful assessment of the measurement properties suggests that the feeling thermometers can be used to provide valid and reliable interval-level measures of individual affective responses toward political stimuli.
Lupton, Robert N. and William G. Jacoby. 2016. "The Reliability of the ANES Feeling Thermometers: An Optimistic Assessment." here for the current revision of the paper, which was first presented at the 2016 Annual Meetings of the Southern Political Science Association.
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