behavioral avoidance-inhibition Scales (BIS-BAS)

Background:

Several theorists have argued that two general motivational systems underlie behavior. A behavioral approach system (BAS) is believed to regulate appetitive motives, in which the goal is to move toward something desired. A behavioral avoidance (or inhibition) system (BIS) is said to regulate aversive motives, in which the goal is to move away from something unpleasant.  We developed the BIS/BAS scales to assess individual differences in the sensitivity of these systems. The BIS/BAS scales are available for research and teaching applications.

Psychometrics:

For scale psychometrics see: Carver, C. S., & White, T. L. (1994). Behavioral inhibition, behavioral activation, and affective responses to impending reward and punishment: The BIS/BAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 319-333.  

Author of Tool:

Carver, C. S., & White, T. L.

Key references:

Carver, C. S., & White, T. L. (1994). Behavioral inhibition, behavioral activation, and affective responses to impending reward and punishment: The BIS/BAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 319-333.

Primary use / Purpose:

Measurement of sensitivity to behavioral systems.

BIS/BAS

Each item of this questionnaire is a statement that a person may either agree with or disagree with. For each item, indicate how much you agree or disagree with what the item says. Please respond to all the items; do not leave any blank. Choose only one response to each statement. Please be as accurate and honest as you can be. Respond to each item as if it were the only item. That is, don't worry about being "consistent" in your responses. Choose from the following four response options:

  • 1 = very true for me
  • 2 = somewhat true for me
  • 3 = somewhat false for me
  • 4 = very false for me
  1. A person's family is the most important thing in
  2. Even if something bad is about to happen to me, I rarely experience fear or
  3. I go out of my way to get things I
  4. When I'm doing well at something I love to keep at
  5. I'm always willing to try something new if I think it will be
  6. How I dress is important to
  7. When I get something, I want, I feel excited and
  8. Criticism or scolding hurts me quite a
  9. When I want something, I usually go all-out to get
  10. I will often do things for no other reason than that they might be
  11. It's hard for me to find the time to do things such as get a
  12. If I see a chance to get something I want, I move on it right
  13. I feel pretty worried or upset when I think or know somebody is angry at me.
  14. When I see an opportunity for something I like I get excited right
  15. I often act on the spur of the
  16. If I think something unpleasant is going to happen, I usually get pretty "worked "
  17. I often wonder why people act the way they
  18. When good things happen to me, it affects me
  19. I feel worried when I think I have done poorly at something
  20. I crave excitement and new
  21. When I go after something I use a "no holds barred" approach.
  22. I have very few fears compared to me
  23. It would excite me to win a
  24. I worry about making

Items other than 2 and 22 are reverse scored.

  • BAS Drive: 3, 9, 12, 21
  • BAS Fun Seeking:  5, 10, 15, 20
  • BAS Reward Responsiveness: 4, 7, 14, 18, 23
  • BIS: 2, 8, 13, 16, 19, 22, 24
  • Items 1, 6, 11, 17, are fillers.

The fact that there are three BAS-related scales and only one BIS-related scales was not planned or theoretically motivated. The factors emerged empirically, from an item set that was intended to capture diverse manifestations of the BAS, according to various theoretical statements. It is likely that a broader sampling of items on the BIS side would also have resulted in more than one scale. I do not encourage combining the BAS scales, however, because they do turn out to focus on different aspects of incentive sensitivity. In particular, Fun Seeking is known to have elements of impulsiveness that are not contained in the other scales