Improving upon Bogardus: Creating a More Sensitive and Dynamic Social Distance Scale

Darin M. Mather, Stephen W. Jones, Scott Moats


Since 1925, the Bogardus Social Distance Scale has been a staple in social science research. This scale, which is often used to study prejudice and intergroup relations, asks participants to self-disclose their feelings of acceptance for members of out-groups. Ranging from 1 (no social distance) to 7 (greatest social distance), the scale measures respondents’ perceived sense of intimacy or closeness to those in groups that are different from their own. This study shows the utility of adding a unique intensity score (iScore) dimension to the Bogardus scale by combining it with a Likert scale to produce a new measure. This improved measure provides a greater level of precision, sensitivity, and nuance than the traditional Bogardus Social Distance Scale. The study offers a direct comparison of the traditional Bogardus and new iScore results. Findings demonstrate the advantages of using an iScore.


Bogardus Social Distance Scale, scaling, sensitivity measures

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