Fundamental to human life are our emotions (Kvajo, 2016).
Anger is a basic emotion evolved from the need for survival, fending off predators and fleeing to safety (Ekman, 1992).
Anger can be problematic when it is excessive and disproportionate (Kassinove & Tafrate, 2002). In excess, it is related to increased injuries and mortality (Harburg, Julius, Kaciroti, Gleiberman, & Schork, 2003), poor emotional wellbeing, and mental health problems (Frasure-Smith & Lesperance, 2003). It can lead to a breakdown of family, social, and work life (Maneta, Cohen, Schulz, & Waldinger, 2012).
With such dire consequences, it is imperative to help clients eliminate unnecessary anger so they can lead healthier and more positive lives.
In this article, we will outline a multitude of tests and quizzes to measure your clients’ anger and hostility. At the end of the article, there are plenty of tools you can use with clients.
You can make a difference and help clients communicate and cope better with anger. They can also learn to appraise angry situations differently to stop the situation from escalating to rage.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Relationships Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients build healthy, life-enriching relationships.
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How Are Anger and Emotions Measured?
We talk about emotions all the time, but what are they exactly?
Emotions are complicated psychological states. They have three components: subjective experience, physiological response, and expressed behavioral response (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2007).
Anger is an emotion that has all of these three components (Alia-Klein et al., 2020). It has many different dimensions: passive-aggressive, assertive, constructive, and explosive (Fernandez, 2008), and these can all be measured.
Since emotions are conscious, it is easy to measure them with tests, questionnaires, and rating scales.
A measurement of anger needs to distinguish anger from other emotions. The most common way to assess anger is through psychometric self-report tools (Bongard, 2013). Multiple-choice responses or Likert-type scales ranging from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’ are most effective, giving an overall score (Likert, 1932).
10 Best Tests to Assess Anger Issues
There are many measures of anger that have been researched and extensively documented in peer-reviewed journals.
The following psychometric tests have high standards of reliability and validity. The tests measure transitory emotional states, longer lasting mood states, motivational dynamic traits, and even stable enduring personality traits.
1. Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory
The Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory (BDHI; Buss & Durkee, 1957) is a 75-item and 8-dimension measure of anger and hostility.
The sub-scales measure assault (10 items), indirect hostility (9 items), irritability (11 items), negativism (5 items), resentment (8 items), suspicion (10 items), guilt (9 items), and verbal hostility (13 items).
The BDHI can be administered using a two-choice (agree or disagree) or six-choice (strongly disagree to strongly agree) response format.
The BDHI was the first significant dimensional measure of anger/hostility and aggression. It has been used for over 50 years in thousands of research studies and has been translated into numerous languages.
This inventory has therapeutic implications for anger, guilt, aggression, dangerous behavior, and hostility.
A copy of the BDHI can be obtained from MAPI Research Trust.
2. Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire
The Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire (BPAQ; Buss & Perry, 1992) is based on the BDHI. The BPAQ comprises physical aggression (9 items), verbal aggression (7 items), anger (5 items), and hostility (8 items) (Lange et al., 1995).
The BPAQ is a 29-item questionnaire with a 5-point Likert response format. It captures cognitive, affective, and behavioral dimensions of hostility, and has been extensively researched in the United States, Canada, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, and Egypt (Abd-El-Fattah, 2007).
The BPAQ has been a good predictor of increased blood pressure response to threat (Smith & Gallo, 1999) and severity of coronary disease in men younger than 60 (Gidron, Davidson, & Ilia, 2001). There is promising research evidence that shows the BPAQ is predictive of health outcomes.
To obtain a copy of the BPAQ, you can look online at PhenX Toolkit.
3. Anger Self-Report Questionnaire
The Anger Self-Report Questionnaire (ASR) was initially created by Zelin, Adler, and Myerson (1972). It was further developed many years later by Reynolds, Walkey, and Green (1994). The ASR measures anger and hostility through awareness of anger and behavioral aggression. Awareness of anger, expression of anger, guilt, condemnation of anger, and mistrust are sub-scales.
The version by Zelin et al. (1972) has 64 items, while the Reynolds et al. (1994) version is a 30-item short form. The questions on both measures are answered on a 5-point Likert scale.
The original long version of the ASR can be located in the Zelin et al. (1972) article. The short version can be obtained from the Reynolds et al. (1994) article.
4. The Reaction Inventory
The Reaction Inventory was initially devised by Evans and Stangeland (1971). Cho, Kim, Kim, Wang, and Chee (2009) developed a Korean adaptation.
The anger variable tested here is the individual’s propensity to being angrily aroused. It was constructed to measure the number and type of anger-arousing incidents (Leenaars & Lester, 2011).
The original version has 76 items and 10 hypothetical scenarios. These are minor chance annoyances, criticism, major chance annoyances, authority, frustration in business, destructive, self-opinionated, inconsiderate people, and too personal.
In the Korean version (Cho et al., 2009), there are scenarios based on embarrassing circumstances, unpleasant encounters, personal disrespect, unpredictable disturbances, and disruptions.
The questions are all based on a 5-point Likert scale, indicating the degree to which a person would be angered by each scenario.
The original version can be found in Evans and Stangeland (1971), and the Korean version can be found in Cho et al. (2009).
5. Novaco Anger Scale and Provocation Inventory
The Novaco Anger Scale and Provocation Inventory (NAS-PI) was initially constructed by Novaco (1975) and later revised (Novaco, 1994, 2003).
The disposition of anger has been considered as cognitive, arousal, and behavioral. It describes someone’s ability to regulate anger when they are provoked and their anger is aroused (Novaco, 1975).
The NAS-PI is composed of two parts. The Novaco Anger Scale (60 items) explains how an individual experiences anger (Part A). The Provocation Inventory (25 items) identifies the kind of situations that induce anger (Part B). They can be used independently. It is an excellent measure to assess anger reactions, suppression, and change in anger.
In Part A, the statements are rated ‘never true’ to ‘always true.’ In Part B, they are rated from ‘not at all angry’ to ‘very angry.’
A copy of this test can be purchased from Pearson Education Ltd.
6. Multidimensional Anger Inventory
The Multidimensional Anger Inventory (MAI; Siegel, 1985, 1986) incorporates a range of provocative anger-eliciting situations. It is a 38-item multidimensional scale of anger and hostility. It measures the frequency, duration, and mode of anger (anger in and anger out); guilt; hostile outlook; brooding; and anger-eliciting situations.
There are 29 questions with responses on a 5-point Likert scale, apart from question 29, which has multiple responses.
A copy of the MAI can be found in the Flanders Health Blog.
7. State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory – 2nd Edition
The State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI-2) measures how the components of anger contribute to medical conditions, such as hypertension and coronary heart disease. This is the most widely recognized anger inventory. There have been a few revisions (Spielberger, 1988, 1991, 1999).
The anger concept is viewed in terms of state and trait. The ratings are on a four-point scale and measure state and trait anger. It can be used for anyone over the age of 16.
The inventory measures the experience, expression, and control of anger. It comprises 57 items and 6 scales, with 5 sub-scales. The state anger scale has 15 items and measures anger as a momentary emotional state. The trait anger scale has 10 items and is used to measure the disposition to experience angry feelings, similar to a personality-type trait.
The anger expression scale (16 items) and the anger control scale (16 items) measure four anger-related trait dimensions. Expression in and expression out are related to holding anger in or expressing it outwardly. Anger control in and out concern the extent of individual anger control inward or outward. There is also an anger expression index (total anger expression).
The STAXI-2 is a good measure for capturing over- and under-control of anger. It is suitable for the purposes of planning treatments.
A copy of the scale is available to purchase from Ann Arbor Publishers.
8. The Clinical Anger Scale
The Clinical Anger Scale (Snell, Gum, Shuck, Mosley, & Hite, 1995) is a 21-item objective self-report measure.
It measures annoying others, social, work, appetite, sleep, health, thinking, anger in the future, anger about failure, anger about things, angry-hostile feelings, angry about self, angry misery, wanting to hurt others, shouting at people, sexual and decision interference, alienating others, fatigue, anger in the present, and irritated now.
The scores range from 0 to 63. The higher the score, the more anger symptoms the individual holds.
A copy of the scale is available for free from the Measurement Instrument Database for the Social Sciences.
9. The Anger Disorders Scale
The Anger Disorders Scale (ADS; DiGiuseppe & Tafrate, 2004) is a clinically relevant measure of anger for those aged 18 to 76, and is essential for treatment plan development.
It assesses anger as an independent problem, not as a secondary problem to something else. The scale examines physical aggression, cognitions from anger, and internal and expression versions of anger.
The ADS consists of five domains: provocations, arousal, cognitions, motives, and behaviors. In each domain, there are various sub-domains.
The ADS is administered as a structured interview with 134 questions rated on a 5-point Likert scale.
A short form of the ADS with three sub-scales (expression, anger in, and vengeance) is also available.
A copy of the form is available for purchase at Hogrefe.
10. The Awareness and Expression of Anger Indicator
The Awareness and Expression of Anger Indicator (AEAI) by Catchlove and Braha (1985) attempts to assess awareness of feelings of anger and the expression of anger.
The AEAI uses a hypothetical vignette followed by questions about how the person feels and what they would do. The individual is told to imagine that the same scenario occurs on four successive days and is asked the same two questions about feeling and expressing anger.
Answers to these questions are ranked alongside the idealized response for each occurrence of the scenario.
This test is unique with its single vignette and partly qualitative analyses of data.
A copy of the AEAI is available in the peer-reviewed article by Catchlove and Braha (1985).
5 Psychologically Valid Quizzes
It is not essential to use a reliable and validated measure of anger with your clients to recognize if they have anger issues, especially if there is not enough time for a lengthy questionnaire. You may suspect an underlying anger issue from your client’s presenting complaint and may wish to screen for this.
Several short tests quickly screen anger. These short quizzes serve as a good reference point and indicator of anger.
1. The Anger Test
This is an online quiz that appears to have a similar method to the NAS-PI (Novaco, 2003).
There are 25 questions with responses ranging from ‘not at all’ to ‘very much.’ Your client can compare the score with their age group, gender, and country norms, once the results are presented at the end of the test.
A brief description for understanding the percentage score is provided, plus tips on managing stress and how to stop accumulating anger.
The Anger Test is available at Psychologist World.
2. The British Association of Anger Management
The British Association of Anger Management is an organization with multiple resources for anger management that have been provided over the years as a direct response to the lack of such resources, services, and support.
They have a short, 10-item online anger quiz to assess anger, and they provide further support if this is requested.
The Free Anger Test can be found on their website.
3. Anger Test
The Anger Test at Online-Therapy.com begins with a short description of the signs and symptoms of anger.
If your clients recognize some or all of the symptoms, they can take the free 15-item test. This generates a summary of what your client’s scores mean once they are submitted.
This test can be found at Online-Therapy.com.
4. Anger Management Quiz
The online five-question anger quiz at High-Speed Training is focused on anger in the workplace. It provides an overall score and suggests some improved communication methods.
This Anger Management Quiz would be beneficial if your clients are experiencing workplace stress and anger.
5. Anger Quiz
The 25-item Anger Quiz at Gracepoint is a short screening test of anger to explore if any diagnosis or treatment is required for anger problems.
This quiz can be found at Gracepoint.
Anger Management Tools From PositivePsychology.com
There is an abundance of anger management tools on PositivePsychology.com to help your clients recognize anger triggers and understand how to cope with and transform anger.
Here are a few of our favorites to get you started:
- Anger Exit and Re-Entry
This worksheet helps clients recognize when best to disengage from conflict or difficult conversations, cool down, and re-engage later to facilitate greater insight and joint problem-solving.
- Imagery Based Exposure Worksheet
This worksheet invites clients to visualize and re-experience strong negative emotions produced by a difficult event to help reduce the power that situation or memory holds.
- The EQ 5 Point Tool
This tool can help you or your clients defuse conflict in an emotionally intelligent way using brief, respectful, and clear communication.
- Countdown to Calmness
This mindfulness exercise invites clients to use all five senses to ground themselves, induce calm, and mindfully accept things the way they are.
- Impact of My Anger
This worksheet helps clients capture examples of behavior spurred by anger to consider who has been impacted by it and how.
- Anger Management for Teens: Helpful Worksheets & Resources
An article dedicated to anger management for teens, it provides insight and dedicated resources for this challenging stage of life.
- 17 Positive Communication Exercises
If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others communicate better, this collection contains 17 validated positive communication tools for practitioners. Use them to help others improve their communication skills and form deeper and more positive relationships.
A Take-Home Message
Anger is an emotion that affects all people at varying levels.
We do not always realize when anger becomes habitual. It is easy to overreact to minor problems, cope poorly, and allow anger to escalate (Dyer, 2020).
It is essential to help clients recognize anger triggers and negative emotions to make necessary changes.
Anger negatively affects physical, emotional, and mental health and wellbeing (Spielberger, 1988, 1991, 1999).
Reliable and validated measures are good at assessing the various types of anger. Short quizzes are effective as quick screening tools, to check if anger exists.
The anger management tools above will help your clients prevent anger from becoming firmly embedded in their lives. Why not try them out with clients to see which are most effective? These tools will help to de-escalate angry feelings, resist angry urges, and improve communication.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Relationships Exercises for free.
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