Contents: Test, software, personality measure, violent personality, emotional empathy, aggression, hostility, aggressive, hostile, person, scale, measure, worker violence risk, work.

Software for Assessing Individual Violence (Hostility, Aggression) with Built-In Protections Against Faking

Measuring the violence risk a person poses to others is extremely challenging, because most questionnaire type scales may be subject to faking. Those who are likely to pose a great danger to others may sometimes supply answers that would hide their true potential for acting in a violent way.

Because of this difficulty in detecting a person's true violence potential, three separate approaches to the measurement of individual violence were developed in our laboratory. The three instruments used are:

The present software package includes all three instruments. Potentially violent individuals who might fake their answers to the REV are far less likely to do so in responding to the BEES or TPS. Also, in a substantial percentage of cases, they also are likely to supply unfaked answers to the REV. Thus, in the ideal case, the three approaches provide similar results (e.g., low violence potential, as measured by all three instruments). When respondents fake their answers, one or both covert instruments (BEES, TPS) are still likely to identify violence risk correctly.

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 become smaller than they would have been in the absence of response slanting. The present software includes a built-in feature to help detect when such response slanting/faking occurs and warns the tester when results become "unacceptable."

Thus, the combination of the four tests in this package presents a multiplicity of controls and safeguards for testing violence potential. The software computes a "summary violence index" using a number of built-in rules involving scores on these four instruments.

The software for administering, scoring, and interpreting results runs on IBM-compatible computers and provides (a) total scores, equivalent percentile scores and equivalent z-scores for each person tested and (b) a database of scores for all individuals tested. The software is extremely 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.

Rationale for the Suggested Scales
The Risk of Eruptive Violence (REV) Scale is the most direct and transparent measure we have for assessing a person's violence potential. This scale is designed to identify 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 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.

Experimental findings using the REV have shown it to be a strong positive correlate of an individual's past history of actual violence (r = .71). Additional findings obtained by Mehrabian (1997) show that the Risk of Eruptive Violence Scale (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, 1996a). Thus, high scores on the BEES are interpreted as showing low violence potential and, conversely, very low scores on the BEES are considered suggestive of the possible potential (but not certainty) of violence.

Mehrabian (1997) also found the REV to have a strong negative correlation of -.62 with the Triat Pleasure-Displeasure Scale which is a very general measure of psychological adjustment-maladjustment. Thus, for instance, a respondent may show very low empathy (according to the BEES) and show confirming evidence of potential violence by being categorized as having an unpleasant temperament (low TPS score). When such a respondent also gets a high score on the REV, his/her potential for acting violently can be made with reasonable confidence. When such a respondent gets an average or low score on the REV, an inference of significant violence potential can also be made, but with less certainty.

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

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

Mehrabian, A. (1996b). Pleasure-arousal-dominance: A general framework for describing and measuring individual differences in temperament. Current Psychology, vol. 14, pp. 261-292.

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.

Mehrabian, A. (2001). Manual for the Lie Scale (LIE). (Available from Albert Mehrabian, 1130 Alta Mesa Road, Monterey, CA, USA 93940).

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