Body Sensations Interpretation Questionnaire (BSIQ)


Body Sensations Interpretation Questionnaire (BSIQ) is a modified version of McNally and Foa’s (1987) Interpretation Questionnaire, that aims to study the misinterpretation of bodily sensations and panic disorder.

Author of Tool:

Clark, D. M., Salkovskis, P. M., Ost, L. G., Breitholtz, E., Koehler, K. A., Westling, B. E, . & Gelder, M.

Key references:

Clark, D. M., Salkovskis, P. M., Ost, L. G., Breitholtz, E., Koehler, K. A., Westling, B. E, . & Gelder, M. (1997). Misinterpretation of body sensations in panic disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65, 203-213

Primary use / Purpose:

The BSIQ-27 is a self-report measure that consists of ambiguous items which can be perceived as threatening. Items are arranged in four subscales: panic body sensations, general symptoms, social events and other events. Each item is followed by the question ‘Why?’ and participants are asked to give the first account that enters their mind. Responses are coded as anxiety-related (coded as 1) or benign (coded as 0).


Here are some outline descriptions of situations in which it is not quite clear what is happening. Read each one, and then answer the question below it very briefly. Write down the first thing that comes into your mind without thinking too long about it. Please write down what you think is happening before you turn over the page. Be as specific as possible.

When you have done that, turn over the page and you will see three possible explanations for the situation. Arrange these in the order in which they would be most likely to come to your mind if you found yourself in a similar situation. So the one that you would consider most likely to be true should come first, and the one that you would consider least likely to be true should come third. Do not think too long before deciding.
We want your first impressions, and do not worry if none of them fits with what you actually did think.


1. You notice that your heart is beating quickly and pounding. Why?

  • a) Because you have been physically active.
  • b) Because there is something wrong with your heart.
  • c) Because you are feeling excited.

2. A member of your family 1s late arriving home. Why?

  • They have had a serious accident on the way home.
  • They met a friend and are talking with them.
  • It took longer than usual to get home.

3. You go into a shop and the assistant ignores you. Why?

  • They are bored with their job, and this makes them rude.
  • They are concentrating very hard on something else.
  • They find you irritating and resent your presence.

4. You have developed a small spot on the back of your hand. Why?

  • You have been eating the wrong things or have a mild allergy.
  • You are developing skin cancer.
  • You have been bitten by an insect.

5. You are talking to an acquaintance who briefly looks out of the window. Why?

  • Something outside has caught their attention.
  • They are bored with you.
  • They are tired and can’t concentrate.

6, You feel lightheaded and weak. Why?

  • You are about to faint.
  • You need to get something to eat.
  • You didn’t get enough sleep last night.

7. You wake with a start in the middle of the night, thinking you heard a noise, but all is quiet. What woke you up?

  • You were woken by a dream.
  • burglar broke in to your house.
  • door or window rattled in the wind.

8. Your chest feels uncomfortable and tight. Why?

  • You have indigestion.
  • You have a sore muscle.
  • Something is wrong with your heart.

9. You notice a frowning stranger approaching you in the street. Why?

  • You have done something wrong and are about to be told off.
  • He’s lost and wants directions.
  • You dropped something and he’s returning it.

10. You have a sudden pain in your stomach. Why?

  • You have appendicitis or an ulcer.
  • You have indigestion.
  • You are hungry.

11. A crisis comes up at work and you can’t immediately think of what to do. Why?

  •  It’s an unusual situation which you haven’t encountered before.
  • You need a moment to think about a solution.
  • You are inadequate to deal with the problem.

12. You are introduced to someone at a party who fails to reply to a question you ask them. Why?

  • They did not hear the question.
  • They think you are uninteresting and boring.
  • They were preoccupied with something else at the time.

13. You have a pain in the small of your back. Why?

  • You have pulled a muscle while bending and stretching.
  • You are sitting awkwardly.
  • There is something wrong with your spine.

14. You suddenly feel confused and are having difficulty in thinking straight. Why?

  • You are going out of your mind.
  • You are coming down with a cold.
  • You’ve been working too hard and need a rest.

15. You have visitors round for a meal and they leave sooner than you expected. Why?

  • They did not wish to outstay their welcome.
  • They had another pressing engagement to go to.
  • They did not enjoy the visit and were bored with your company.

16. You are under a great deal of pressure and finding it difficult to manage everything you have to do. Why?

  •  You are tired and will be better after a rest.
  • You are getting to the point where you will just stop coping.
  • There are just too many things to do in the time available.

17. You find a lump under the skin on your neck. Why?

  • You have a mild cold virus, and your glands are slightly swollen.
  • The lump is normally there, but you have just noticed it.
  • You are developing cancer.

18. You notice that some people you know are looking in your direction. Why?

  • They are criticizing you.
  • They are being friendly and want you to join them.
  • They just happen to be looking your way.

19. You feel short of breath. Why?

  • You are developing flu.
  • You are about to suffocate or stop breathing.
  • You are physically “out of shape”.

20. A letter marked “URGENT” arrives. What is in the letter?

  • It is a circular designed to attract your attention.
  • You forgot to pay a bill.
  • News that someone you know has died or is seriously ill.

21. A friend suggests that you change the way that you’re doing a job in your own house. Why?

  • They are trying to be helpful.
  • They think you’re incompetent.
  • They have done the job more often and know an easier way.

22. You notice that your heart is pounding, you feel breathless, dizzy and unreal. Why?

  • You have been overdoing it and are overtired.
  • Something you ate disagreed with you.
  • You are dangerously ill or going mad.

23. You have been eating normally but have recently lost some weight.

  • You have cancer.
  • It’s a normal fluctuation.
  • You have been rushing about more than usual.

24. You smell smoke. What’s burning?

  • Your house is on fire.
  • Some food is burning.
  • Someone is smoking a cigarette.

25. Your vision has become slightly blurred. Why?

  • You have strained your eyes slightly.
  • You need to get glasses or change your existing glasses.
  • This is the sign of a serious illness.

26. An old acquaintance passes you in the street without acknowledging you. Why?

  • They recognized you but think you’re not worth talking to.
  • Your appearance has changed since they last saw you and so they did not recognize you.
  • They had other things on their mind.

27. Your doctor tells you your headaches are caused by tension, but he wants you to see a specialist. Why?

  • He wants to confirm his diagnosis.
  • He actually thinks you’ve got a serious illness.
  • The specialist knows more about how to treat tension headaches.