Violence Test: The Risk of Eruptive Violence Scale (REV) and Software

We have developed several testing approaches to measurement of violence and anger. This page describes one major instrument that is designed to identify angry and potentially highly violent individuals.

Risk of Eruptive Violence Defined
"Risk of Eruptive Violence" refers to individuals who generally convey the outward appearance of being non-aggressive and non-violent, but who, on rare occasions, snap and become extremely violent and destructive. The rationale underlying the construction of the present scale was that such persons, although typically giving the outward appearance of being quiet, withdrawn, and restrained, are often seething with anger because they are frustrated in their wishes to hurt and maim those who offend (or are imagined to offend) them. However, under certain circumstances (e.g., a final and desperate response to suicidal urges, situationally induced and temporary feelings of control and influence, or extremely high levels of emotional activation), such persons literally erupt into violent action with tragic consequences for themselves and others.

Scale Description
The Risk of Eruptive Violence Scale (REV) is in a questionnaire format and is very easy to administer and score. Respondents report the degree of their agreement or disagreement with each of its 35 items using a 9-point agreement-disagreement scale.

Sample Items
Test Features
Key Article Describing Development of the REV
Mehrabian, A. (1997). Relations among personality scales of aggression, violence, and empathy: Validational evidence bearing on the Risk of Eruptive Violence Scale. Aggressive Behavior, 23, 433-445.

Software for the Risk of Eruptive Violence Scale
Software for administering, scoring, and interpreting the Risk of Eruptive Violence Scale is available. It is a console (non-graphic) program and runs on IBM-compatible machines. The software may be useful even if you plan on group administering the paper and pencil version of the GEIS given in the test manual. In that case, you can use the software to input data from each participant and have the software compute total scores and z-scores for all participants.

The software provides (a) total score, equivalent z-score, equivalent percentile score, and interpretation of these scores for each person tested and (b) a database of scores for all individuals tested. Additionally, the software includes a feature for exporting a printable text file (.txt format) of the data. Instructions are supplied for importing the text file into Excel.

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.

A common problem in personality testing is that some respondents attempt to slant their answers to make good impressions and, as a result, test results become misleading. When respondents slant answers, scores on socially undesirable traits (such as anger or violence) become lower than they would have been in the absence of response slanting. The software for the REV includes a built-in feature to help detect when such response slanting/faking occurs and warns the tester when results are "unacceptable." The latter data on response slanting are also part of the ASCII text file of all test results that can be output from the program.

Comprehensive Approach to Measurement of Violence Risk
In some highly sensitive applied situations where violence and anger testing is required, there is a substantial risk that respondents might attempt to fake their answers so as to project a more desirable (less violent) impression of themselves. We have developed a more comprehensive software package for such testing situations, (that includes camouflaged tests of violence risk). Details are given in the following link.

  • Comprehensive Testing for Violence

    Reliability and Validity of the Risk of Eruptive Violence Scale
    Reliability and validity data for the Risk of Eruptive Violence Scale (REV) were reported by Mehrabian (1997). The REV had an alpha internal consistency (reliability) coefficient of .95 (Mehrabian, 1997, p. 440).

    Mehrabian (1997) factor analyzed the 35 items of the REV and obtained a principal components solution. Use of the eigenvalue plot together with the Scree Test showed a clear "elbow" at the second eigenvalue, suggesting a one-factor solution (see details in test manual). Thus, both in terms of internal consistency and factor structure, the REV is a highly homogeneous scale.

    Findings obtained by Mehrabian (1997) show that the Risk of Eruptive Violence Scale (REV) correlated .74 with the Brief Anger and Aggression Scale (Maiuro, Vitaliano, & Cahn, 1987) and correlated .56 with the Violence Risk Scale (Plutchik & van Praag, 1990). Also, the REV correlated negatively with two measures of emotional empathy: it correlated -.43 with the Emotional Empathic Tendency Scale (Mehrabian & Epstein, 1972) and correlated -.50 with the Balanced Emotionl Empathy Scale (Mehrabian, 1996). In addition, the REV correlated negatively (r = -.49) with a general measure of Optimism-Pessimism (Scheier, Carver & Bridges, 1994), showing that greater violence risk is associated with a more general negative outlook on life.

    Most importantly, in Mehrabian's (1997) study, a structured interview was used to assess the actual history of violence of prisoners. Items of the structured interview included, for example, history of fights (detailed according to use of weapons, types of weapons used, and extent of injury to others. REV scores correlated .71 with Violent History Scores of the prisoners, providing very strong validity data for the REV.

    Maiuro, R.D., Vitaliano, P.P., Cahn, T.S. (1987). A brief measure for assessment of anger and aggression. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2, 166-178.

    Mehrabian, A., & Epstein, N. (l972). A measure of emotional empathy. Journal of Personality, 40, 525-543.

    Mehrabian, A. (1996). Manual for the Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale (BEES). (Available from Albert Mehrabian, 1130 Alta Mesa Road, Monterey, CA, USA 93940).

    Mehrabian, A. (1997). Relations among personality scales of aggression, violence, and empathy: Validational evidence bearing on the Risk of Eruptive Violence Scale. Aggressive Behavior, 23, 433-445.

    Plutchik, R., & van Praag, H.M. (1990). A self-report measure of violence risk, II. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 31, 450-456.

    Scheier, M.F., Carver, C.S., & Bridges, M.W. (1994). Distinguishing optimism from neuroticism (and trait anxiety, self-mastery, and self-esteem): A reevaluation of the Life Orientation Test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 1063-1078.

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