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Date:         Mon, 22 Dec 2008 07:02:29 -0500
Reply-To:     Hannah State-Davey <hmclarke@HOTMAIL.CO.UK>
Sender:       "SPSSX(r) Discussion" <SPSSX-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From:         Hannah State-Davey <hmclarke@HOTMAIL.CO.UK>
Subject:      Comparison of Pearson's and Spearman's Correlation Cofficient

All,

I am constructing a measurement scale and have used a 7-point Likert scale. Due to the lack of agreement over whether Likert scale data can really be considered interval data and the fact that it results in a skewed distribution, I am looking to compare the results of Pearson's and Spearman's correlations on the data. Although I have a large enough sample to reduce the effects of skewness and kurtosis, and the scatterplot reveals a reasonable linear fit to the data (well equally good linear or quadratic fit) I still feel I need to confirm that Pearson's is appropriate to use for this data. The pearson's correlations are primarily larger than spearman's so i guess it is not underestimating the strength of the relationship due to non-linearity as would be indicated if spearman's correlations were larger than pearson's. Is it that the divergence I am seeing between spearman's and pearson's a product of the data (i.e. there will be a lot of ties in the data due to people rating scale items the same)?

I have calculated item-total correlations as the main form of item reduction before the use of factor analysis using both Spearman's and Pearson's. I have ordered the results from both methods highest to lowest and ranked the sets of scores. I then used Spearman's to determine the degree of association between the two ranked sets of scores. I found a high correlation which would indicate that the same set of items would be selected by either of the methods (Nunnally, 1978).

I am also examining the inter-item correlations to determine bloated specifics or items with a very high number of low correlations indicating that they don't measure the same as the other items. Can I do a similar method as above to determine if both correlation methods would result in the same set of items being selected? Is it enough to just do it for item- total correlations? Or am I unduly worrying about the applicability of Pearson's here?

Apologies for all the questions, but if anyone could provide some insight I would much appreciate it.

Thanks in advance

Hannah

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