An Examination of the Factor, Convergent, and Discriminant Validity of the Behavioral Inhibition System and Behavioral Activation System Scales

  • Cheri A. Levinson
  • Thomas L. Rodebaugh
  • Tiffany Frye


The Behavioral Inhibition System and Behavioral Activation System Scales (BIS/BAS scales) are the most widely used measures designed to assess Gray’s Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory. However, questions remain regarding its factor, convergent, and discriminant validity. We assessed these properties in two samples of undergraduates (N = 723, N = 103). In Study 1, confirmatory factor analysis supported previous findings that suggested removal of several items, resulting in acceptable fit for a four-factor model. Convergent and discriminant validity were assessed for the original and revised scales. In Study 2, a public speaking task was used to assess validity of the scales in reference to positive/negative affect. Convergent and discriminant validity for the revised scales were not substantially different from the original scales. We suggest that future researchers should consider the use of the revised measure we describe. We also suggest that the creation of a revised BIS/BAS scale using new items may be warranted.


Behavioral inhibition system Behavioral activation system Convergent and discriminant validity Factor analysis Social anxiety 



The authors would like to thank Kate Chowpaknam, Kelly Donahue, William Hoffman III, Alison Kraus, Esther Leung, Gita Narayan, Devra Rottman, Dianna Schonfield, and Fannie Zhou for their research assistance. We would also like to thank Katya Fernandez, Erik Shumaker, Alison Cohn, Reuben Karchem, Julia Langer, and Katie Horky for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cheri A. Levinson
    • 1
  • Thomas L. Rodebaugh
    • 1
  • Tiffany Frye
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

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