The Child Trait Arousability Scale
The Child Trait Arousability Scale is offered here primarily for research use by students. In the event it is employed in clinical settings or for any other purpose, it is strongly advisable that findings based on the present instrument be checked against additional data from alternative tests and interview materials.
Definitions and Background
"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.
Now, 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, 1997).
The Child Trait Arousability Scale was developed by Mehrabian and
Falender (1978). The present version contains 46 items and one of the
child's parents reports the degree of his/her agreement or disagreement
with statements about the child using a 9-point agreement-disagreement
The Child Trait Arousability Scale is intended primarily for
experimental use. In the event it is used in clinical or applied
settings, it is strongly advisable that findings based on the present
instrument be checked against additional data from alternative tests and
- Administration: does not require tester to be present; can
be used with individuals or groups (parents report about
- Test format: questionnaire, 46 items
- Appropriate population: Parent of child must be fluent in
- Time required for administration: approximately 10 minutes
- Scoring: hand scored; yields a single total-scale score
- Manual: contains complete scale, scoring directions, norms
- Background literature: includes a general review article on Trait Arousability (Mehrabian, 1995a) and an article describing the development of the Child Trait Arousability Scale (Mehrabian & Falender, 1978)
- Possible uses for experimental research and hypothesis testing, e.g., to assess child temperament or for
research involving children with Attention Deficit Disorder.
Experimental work, reviewed by Mehrabian (1995a), has yielded the
following representative findings for the adult version of the Trait
Arousability Scale and suggest parallel implications for the
Child Trait Arousability Scale. Persons with higher Trait Arousability Scale
scores, compared with those with lower scores, are more likely to show:
- experience higher blood pressure when angered or frustrated,
- have a higher risk of heart disease,
- have a higher risk, in general, of becoming ill,
- avoid others more in crowded living situations,
- be more unhappy and work less well in crowded work-places,
- have better recall of emotional events,
- enjoy violence more,
- be more affiliative, sociable, or friendly,
- be more dependent on others,
- be more emotionally empathic -- feeling more of what others feel,
- be more sensitive and sensuous,
- be more impulsive,
- have less endurance, such as in dealing with difficult problems,
- be more anxious and/or neurotic,
- procrastinate more,
- be more suspicious and paranoid,
- suffer more from eating disorders (e.g., obesity, bulimia),
- be more suicidal.
Mehrabian, A. (1977a). A questionnaire measure of individual
differences in stimulus screening and associated differences in
arousability. Environmental Psychology and Nonverbal Behavior,
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., & Falender, C.A. (1978). A questionnaire measure of
individual differences in child stimulus screening. Educational and
Psychological Measurement, 38, 1119-1127.
Mehrabian, A., & Russell, J.A. (1974). A verbal measure of information
rate for studies in environmental psychology. Environment and
Behavior, 6, 233-252.
Mehrabian, A. (1997). Manual for the Child Trait Arousability
(Converse of the Stimulus Screening) Scale. (Available from
Albert Mehrabian, 1130 Alta Mesa Road, Monterey, CA, USA 93940).