The Trait Arousability (or Emotional Reactivity) Test & Software

Trait Arousability Defined
"Arousal" consists of a combination of a person's levels of mental alertness and physical activity. High-information (i.e., complex, changing, novel and/or unexpected) situations or events increase arousal whereas low- information situations reduce arousal (Mehrabian & Russell, 1974). For instance, an unexpected present received in the mail is a high-information event (it involves something novel, unexpected, and possibly complex). People react to such an event with greater concentration and greater physical activity (e.g., loud and fast speech, gesticulation, expressive face, more bodily tension). Also, as time passes, and they get used to the surprise gift, arousal levels gradually drop back to "baseline" (i.e., normal) levels.

There are consistent individual differences in the patterns of arousal response to high-information events. More "arousable" persons are aroused more easily by high-information events and it takes them longer to return to baseline levels of arousal. Stated otherwise, arousable persons are more emotional (in both positive and negative ways); they experience strong emotions more easily and, once they become emotional, it takes them longer to get back to a normal, unemotional state.

Stimulus Screening is the converse of Trait Arousability. More arousable persons are nonscreeners and less arousable persons are screeners. For details on the relationships between Screening and Arousability, please see Mehrabian (1977a, 1977b, 1995a).

Software for Administring and Scoring the Trait Arousability Scale (TAS)
Software for administering, scoring, and interpreting the Trait Arousability Scale is available within a larger package of software that includes all three PAD (Pleasure, Dominance, Arousability) scales. The software runs on IBM-compatible machines and, for Trait Arousability, provides (a) total score, equivalent percentile score, equivalent z-score, and interpretation of these scores for each person tested and (b) a database of all three scores (total, percentile, z-score) for all individuals tested. The software is easy to use and is password protected so that the Administrator can control access to the database of results. In this way, individuals being tested cannot have access to the results, unless the Administrator chooses to report such results to them.

Detailed Description of the PAD Temperament Software
Scale Description
The first Trait Arousability Scale was developed by Mehrabian (1977a). The scale currently in use (Mehrabian, 1994) is completely new. The present version contains 34 items and subjects report the degree of their agreement or disagreement with each item using a 9-point agreement-disagreement scale.

Sample Items
Test Features
Validity Data:
Mehrabian (1995a) reviewed validity data on the Trait Arousability Scale (TAS). Experimental work reviewed in the preceding article has yielded the following representative findings. Persons with higher Trait Arousability Scale scores, compared with those with lower scores, are more likely to show: Dinzeo et. al. (2004) compared Trait Arousability levels of schizophrenic patients with non-psychiatric controls. Trait Arousability scores of schizophrenics were greater than those of the controls. Trait Arousability scores and reported levels of stress in a positive speech test were significantly correlated. Also, Trait Arousability scores correlated positively with symptoms of anxiety, tension, depression, suspiciousness and unusual thoughts, and hallucinations.

Moosman (2002) studied therapist levels of Trait Arousability in relation to risk of therapists experiencing vicarious traumatization (because of repeated exposure to their clients' descriptions of the clients' traumatic experiences). She found that more arousabe therapists were at greater risk for vicarious traumatization.

Sparks (1989) found that more arousable individuals, according to the TAS, had more intense and enduring fright reactions to frightening mass media materials.

Dinzeo, T.J., Cohen A.S., Nienow, T.M., & Docherty, N.M. (2004). Stress and arousability in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 71 127-135.

Mehrabian, A. (1977a). A questionnaire measure of individual differences in stimulus screening and associated differences in arousability. Environmental Psychology and Nonverbal Behavior, 1, 89-103.

Mehrabian, A. (1977b). Individual differences in stimulus screening and arousability. Journal of Personality, 45, 237-250.

Mehrabian, A. (1994). Manual for the revised Trait Arousability (converse of the Stimulus Screening) Scale. (Available from Albert Mehrabian, 1130 Alta Mesa Road, Monterey, CA, USA 93940).

Mehrabian, A. (1995a). Theory and evidence bearing on a scale of Trait Arousability. Current Psychology, 14, 3-28.

Mehrabian, A. (1995b). Relationships among three general approaches to personality description. Journal of Psychology, 129, 565-581.

Mehrabian, A., & Russell, J.A. (1974). A verbal measure of information rate for studies in environmental psychology. Environment and Behavior, 6, 233-252.

Moosman, J.L. (2002). Vicarious traumatization: The effects of empathy and trait arousability. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences & Engineering, Vol 62(10-B), pp. 4796.

Sparks, G.G. (1989). The prevalence and intensity of fright reactions to mass media: Implications of the activation-arousal view. Communication Quarterly, 37 108-118.

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