The Trait Dominance-Submissiveness (Internal-External Control) Test & Software
Trait Dominance-Submissiveness Defined
This trait deals with a person's characteristic feelings of control and
influence over everyday situations, events, and relationships versus
feelings of being controlled and influenced by circumstances and others,
such as, changes in life and work situations.
Software for Administring & Scoring the Trait Dominance-Submissiveness Scale
Software for administering, scoring, and interpreting the Trait Dominance-Submissiveness 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 Dominance, 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.
The Trait Dominance-submissiveness Scale was developed originally by
considering numerous characteristics related to generalized feelings of
dominance versus submissiveness (Mehrabian & Hines, 1978). The Trait
Dominance-submissiveness Scale currently in use (Mehrabian, 1994a) was
developed within Mehrabian's (1987, 1991, 1995a, 1996) PAD Temperament
Model which requires that Trait Dominance-submissiveness be reasonably
independent of Trait Pleasure-displeasure and of Trait Arousability.
This is a theoretically important feature of the present scale and helps
distinguish it from others that confound the measurement of Trait
Dominance with pleasant- unpleasant and/or arousable-unarousable
characteristics. For instance, measures of Extroversion typically
confound dominant and pleasant temperament characteristics, whereas
measures of aggressiveness confound dominant, unpleasant, and arousable
characteristics. The present version of the Trait Dominance-
submissiveness Scale contains 26 items and subjects report the degree of
their agreement or disagreement with each item using a 9-point
The Trait Dominance-submissiveness 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
- Test format: questionnaire, 26 items
- Appropriate population: English fluency, ages 15 and older
- Time required for administration: approximately 10 minutes
- Scoring: hand scoring yields a single total-scale score; software supplies percentile & z-scores as well
- Manual: contains complete scale, scoring directions, norms
- Background literature: includes articles on the general PAD Temperament Model (Mehrabian, 1991, 1995a; Mehrabian & O'Reilly, 1980)
Mehrabian's (1996) review article on the PAD Temperament Scales supplies considerable validity data on the Trait Dominance Scale.
Validity on the Trait Dominance Scale is also
available indirectly through its correlation of -.73 with the
Sensitivity to Rejection Scale (Mehrabian, 1970). The Sensitivity to
Rejection Scale (MSR) is a measure of generalized social submissiveness
(i.e, the converse of social dominance). Its strong negative
relationship with the Trait Dominance Scale is, therefore,
understandable. Mehrabian (1994b) reviewed experimental evidence on the
Sensitivity to Rejection Scale (MSR) and the findings can be summarized
Persons with higher Sensitivity to Rejection scores, compared with those
with lower scores, are more likely to
The -.73 correlation between the MSR and the Trait Dominance Scale
suggests a similar, though inverted set of relationships for Trait
Dominance. For example, it can be inferred that persons with high Trait
Dominance scores, compared with those with lower scores, are more likely
to (c) be rated as more competent, more confident, more influential, and
more leader- like by others in group situations, (d) do better in
competition, as in sports, and so forth.
- be generally more submissive rather than dominant,
- be less assertive,
- be rated as less competent, less confident, less influential, and
less leader-like by others in group situations,
- do less well in competition, as in sports,
- avoid self-disclosures and feel less socially able and skillful
in social interactions,
- assume posturally tense positions (i.e., submissive postures),
and feel more anxious and less self-confident in dealing with others
in stressful situation.
Construct validity for the Trait Dominance Scale is available also from Mehrabian and O'Reilly (1980) who found that the Trait Dominance Scale (TDS) correlated positively with measures of
Extroversion, Exhibition, Affiliation, Nurturance, Play, Impulsivity,
Understanding, Arousal Seeking, Sentience, Change, Achieving Tendency,
Endurance, Autonomy, and Aggression. They also found that the Trait
Dominance Scale correlated negatively with measures of Neuroticism,
Trait Anxiety, Harmavoidance, Succorance (or Dependency), and
Sensitivity to Rejection.
Additional data were reported by Mehrabian and Stefl (1995) showing that
the Trait Dominance Scale correlated negatively with measures of
Shyness, Loneliness, and Conformity. Finally, the TDS was found to be a
negative correlate of measures of depression (Mehrabian, 1995b;
Mehrabian & Bernath, 1991).
Mehrabian, A. (1970). The development and validation of measures of
affiliative tendency and sensitivity to rejection. Educational and
Psychological Measurement, 30, 417- 428.
Mehrabian, A. (1987). Eating characteristics and temperament:
General measures and interrelationships. Springer-Verlag, New York.
Mehrabian, A. (1991). Outline of a general emotion-based theory of
temperament. In J. Strelau and A. Angleitner (Eds.), Explorations in
temperament: International perspectives on theory and measurement
(pp. 75-86). Plenum Press, New York.
Mehrabian, A. (1994a). Manual for the revised Trait
Dominance-submissiveness Scale (TDS). (Available from Albert Mehrabian,
1130 Alta Mesa Road, Monterey, CA, USA 93940).
Mehrabian, A. (1994b). Evidence bearing on the Affiliative Tendency
(MAFF) and Sensitivity to Rejection (MSR) scales. Current
Psychology, 13, 97-116.
Mehrabian, A. (1995a). Relationships among three general approaches to
personality description. Journal of Psychology, 129, 565-581.
Mehrabian, A. (1995b). Distinguishing depression and trait anxiety in
terms of basic dimensions of temperament. Imagination, Cognition and
Personality, 15, 133-144.
Mehrabian, A. (1996). Pleasure-arousal-dominance: A general
framework for describing and measuring individual differences in
temperament. Current Psychology, 14, pp. 261-292.
Mehrabian, A., & Bernath, M.S. (1991). Factorial composition of
commonly used self-report depression inventories: Relationships with
basic dimensions of temperament. Journal of Research in
Personality, 25, 262-275.
Mehrabian, A., & Hines, M. (1978). A questionnaire measure of
individual differences in dominance-submissiveness. Educational and
Psychological Measurement, 38, 479-484.
Mehrabian, A., & O'Reilly, E. (1980). Analysis of personality measures
in terms of basic dimensions of temperament. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 38, 492-503.
Mehrabian, A., & Stefl, C.A. (1995). Basic temperament components of
loneliness, shyness, and conformity. Social Behavior and
Personality, 23, 253-264.