A Scale for Measuring Attitude Toward The Movies

Louis L. Thurstone[1]

THE: purpose of this paper is to present a settle for measuring attitude toward the "movies" and to describe the method of its construction. This study was undertaken as one of the projects of the Payne Fund of New York The research program is directed by Professor W. W. Charters of Ohio State University.

The original collection of opinions about the movies consisted of two hundred and fifty-eight statements. These opinions, each of which reflects an attitude toward the movies, vary from statements decidedly in favor of the movies through neutral statements to those very much opposed to the movies. They were obtained from literature on the subject, from conversation, and from direct questioning of subjects whose education and experience varied from that of seventh grade children to that of graduate students in the University.

Each statement was then typewritten on a separate card. As a preliminary method of eliminating the most unsatisfactory and retaining the best statements, as well as to get an approximate idea of the scale values of the statements, the method of equal-appearing intervals [2] has used with a small group of sorters. Twenty-five people who had wine understanding of the method being used and who were carefully chosen to make sure that the directions would be thoroughly under-stood and complied with, sorted the cards into eleven piles according to the following instructions :

"These cards contain statements about the value of the movies. Please arrange these cards in eleven piles so that those expressing attitudes most strongly in favor of the movies are in pile one, those which are neutral are in pile six, and those which are most strongly against the movies are in the eleventh pile. The intermediate piles should represent equal steps in appreciation or depreciation of the movies.

"Do not try to get the same number of cards in each pile. They are not evenly distributed.

( 90) “The numbers on the cards are code numbers and have nothing to do with. the arrangement in piles.

"You will find it easier to sort them if you look over a number of the slips, chosen at random, before you begin to sort.”

The results of these twenty-five sortings were tabulated to show in which piles each statement was placed by the group of sorters. The scale values were then determined graphically. As an example of the method used, one of the graphs is reproduced below.

Figure 2 Cumulative distribution for statement 101

The figure represents statement number 101 of the original group which happens to be retained in the final scale as Number 12. The graph shows that all the sorters classified the statement as favorable to

( 91) the movies. The statement reads "Movies increase one 's appreciation of beauty." The curve crosses the 50 percent level at the value of 2.9. This scale value is such that half the readers classified it as favorable to 'movies and half of them as less favorable.

The scale value is indicated by the arrow head on the base line. The lighter lines on either side of the arrow head indicate the quartile range of values assigned to the statements. The Q-value in this case is 1.10. This is a measure of the ambiguity of the statement.

For the application of a more exact scaling technique one hundred statements were chosen from the two hundred and fifty-eight. The choice was based on the following criteria:

1) A continuity of scale values, i.e., a selection of approximately the same number from each region of the scale.

2) Selection of statements with small Q-values.

3) Diction and clearness of the statement itself.

The average Q-value of the statements retained was with a range of .40 to 1.90; while the average Q-value of those statements not retained was 1.44 with a range of .50 to 3.25.

Two hundred sets of these one hundred statements were then printed on three by five cards.

The one hundred statements were then arranged in ten envelopes for rank order sortings. The first envelope contained the fifteen statements most strongly in favor of the movies as determined by the preliminary scaling method. The second envelope contained statements 8 to 22, the third envelope 18 to 32, and, so on, the tenth envelope containing statements 86 to 100. Thus it is seen that fifty of the one hundred statements were, repeated in two envelopes.

The statements in each envelope were in random order and the envelopes were also put in random order. The ten envelopes of statements were presented to the people who were to sort them with the following directions:

"Each envelope in this series contains fifteen cards. On each card is a statement about the movies. Some of these statements are in favor of the movies, and some of them are against the movies. Will you arrange the fifteen statements in each envelope so that the statement which is most in favor of the movies is on top, face up, and the statement which is least in favor of the movies or most strongly 'against the movies is on the bottom. The cards should all, be arranged so that each card is more in favor of the movies than the card under it and less in favor of the movies than the card above it.

( 92)

"In considering each statement ask yourself this question :

"How strongly in favor of the movies is a person who endorses or agrees with this statement? Try to disregard your own attitude toward the statements.

The identification numbers on the cards have no significance,"

Two hundred people sorted the statements by the above directions. putting the fifteen statements in each envelope in rank order.

The results of these sortings were tabulated, and from the tabulations we determined the proportion of times each statement was rated as more strongly in favor of the movies than every other statement. From these proportions the scale separations of the statements in each envelope were determined from the formula[3]

b – a = (Σ xka - Σxkb) / n

in which (b – a) is the scale separation between a and b.

xka is the deviation (k – a) in terms of the standard deviation. It is ascertained from the probability tables by means of the observed proportions k > a.

xkb is the deviation (k – b) in terms of the standard deviation.

n is the number of statements minus one.

Since there were overlapping statements in each adjacent pair of envelopes, the scale separations for the whole set of 'one hundred statements could be calculated. The final scale values of the one hundred statements ranged from 4 .74, the most strongly in favor of the movies. to 0.00, the most strongly against the movies.

The one hundred statements were then divided into ten groups, with a range of .5 scale step in each group. Subsequently four statements were selected from each group, arriving it a final attitude scale consisting of forty statements approximately evenly spaced on the scale. The complete scale is given below, and the scale value of each statement is shown in parentheses following its serial number. The statements have been arranged` in random order.


This is a study of attitudes toward the movies. On the following pages you will find a number of statements expressing different attitudes toward the movies.

( 93)

√ Put a check mark if you agree with the statement.

X Put a cross if you disagree with the statement.

If you simply cannot decide about a statement you may mark it with a question mark.

This is not an examination. There are no right or wrong answers to these statements: This is simply a study of people's attitudes toward the movies. Please indicate your own attitude by a check mark when you agree and by a cross when you disagree.


1. (1.5)  The movies occupy time that should he spent in more whole-some recreation.

2.  (1.3)  I am tired of the movies; I have sec-n too many poor ones.

3.  (4.5)  The movies are the best civilizing device ever developed.

4.  (0.2)  Movies are the most important cause of crime.

5.  (2.7) Movies are all right but a few of them give the rest a had name.

6.  (2.6)  I like to see movies once in a while but they do disappoint you sometimes

7.  (2.9)  I think the movies are fairly interesting.

8.  (2.7)  Movies are just a harmless pastime.

9.  (1.7)  The movies to me are just a way to kill time.

10.    (4.0) The influence of the movies; is decidedly for good.

11.    (3.9)  The movies are good, clean entertainment.

12.     (3.9) Movies increase one's appreciation of beauty.

13.     (1.7)  I'd never miss the movies if we didn't have them.

14.     (2.4)  Sometimes I feel that the movies are desirable and sometimes I doubt it.

15.     (0.0) It is a sin to go to the movies.

16.     (4.3)  There would be very little progress without the movies.

17.     (4.3)  The movies are the most vital form of art to-day.

18.     (3.6)  A movie is the best entertainment that can be obtained cheaply.

19.     (3.4)  A movie once in a while is a-good thing for everybody.

20.     (3.4)  The movies are one of the few things I can enjoy by myself.

21.     (1.3)  Going to the movies is a foolish way to spend your money.

22.     (1.1)  Moving pictures bore me.

23.     (0.6)  As they now exist movies are wholly bad for children.

( 94)

24.    (0.6)  Such a pernicious influence as the movies is bound to weaken the moral fibre of those who attend.

25.     (0.3)  As a protest against movies we should pledge ourselves never to attend them.

26.     (0.1) The movies are the most important single influence for evil.

27.    (4.7)  The movies are the most powerful influence for good in American life.

28.     (2.3)  I would go to the movies more often if I were sure of finding something good.

29.     (4.1)  If I had my choice of anything I wanted to do, I would go to the movies.

30.     (2.2)  The pleasure people get from the movies' just about balance, the harm they do.

31 (2.0)  I don't find much that educational in the current films.

32.     (1.9)  The information that you obtain from the movies is of little value.

33 (1.0)  Movies are a bad habit.

34.     (3.3)  I like the movies as they are because I go to be entertained not educated.

35.     (3.1)  On the whole the movies are pretty decent.

36.     (0.8)  The movies are undermining respect for authority.

37.     (2.7)  I like to see other people enjoy the movies whether I enjoy them myself or not.

38.     (0.3)  The movies are to blame for the prevalence of sex offences.

39.     (4.4)  The movie is one of the great educational institutions for common people.

40.     (0.8)  Young people are learning to smoke, drink, and pet from the movies.

In scoring the attitude scale we cannot say that one score is better or worse than another; we can only say that one person's attitude toward the movies is more or less favorable than another person's. It is purely arbitrary that attitudes unfavorable to the movies have lower scale values than favorable attitudes.

Any individual's attitude is measured by the average or mean scale value of all the statements he cheeks. The person who has the larger score is more favorably inclined toward the movies than the person with a lower score.

For the purpose of comparing groups, the distributions of attitude in each group can be plotted and it can then be said whether and how much one group is more favorable to the movies than another group.


  1. Acknowledgment is made to Miss Ruth Peterson for assistance throughout the entire study and to Miss Marie Thiele for the collection of the original set of statements.
  2. Thurstone, L. L. "Attitudes Can Be Measured," American Journal of Sociology, XXXIII (Jan., 1928), pp. 529-554.
  3. Method of Paired Comparisons for Social Values" ;(equation 5, p. 391), Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, XI (Jan.-March, 1926), pp. 354-400.

Valid HTML 4.01 Strict Valid CSS2