The BIS/BAS Scale is a 24-item self-report questionnaire designed to measure two motivational systems: the behavioral inhibition system (BIS), which corresponds to motivation to avoid aversive outcomes, and the behavioral activation system (BAS), which corresponds to motivation to approach goal-oriented outcomes. Participants respond to each item using a 4-point Likert scale: 1 (very true for me), 2 (somewhat true for me), 3 (somewhat false for me), and 4 (very false for me). The scale has four subscales that were derived via factor analysis. One subscale corresponds to the BIS. Seven items contribute to this score (e.g., “Criticism or scolding hurts me quite a bit”). The remaining three subscales correspond to three components of BAS. BAS Drive measures the motivation to follow one’s goals. Four items contribute to this score (e.g., “When I want something I usually go all-out to get it”). BAS Reward Responsiveness measures the sensitivity to pleasant reinforcers in the environment. Four items contribute to this score (e.g., “It would excite me to win a contest”). BAS Fun Seeking measures the motivation to find novel rewards spontaneously. Five items contribute to this score (e.g., “I crave excitement and new sensations”).
The BIS/BAS Scale measures avoidance motivation (behavioral inhibition system; BIS) and appetitive motivation (behavioral activation system; BAS) (Carver & White, 1994). Given that approach and avoidance drive behaviors, these two motivational factors are highly relevant within the domain of self-regulation and are important to study as potential mechanisms of behavior change (Carver, 2006).
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Text Citation: Carver, C. S., & White, T. L. (1994). Behavioral inhibition, behavioral activation, and affective responses to impending reward and punishment: The BIS/BAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 319-333.
Text Citation: Carver, C. S. (2006). Approach, avoidance, and the self-regulation of affect and action. Motivation and emotion, 30(2), 105-110.
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The Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) program seeks to promote basic research on the initiation, personalization and maintenance of behavior change. By integrating work across disciplines, this effort will lead to an improved understanding of the underlying principles of behavior change. The SOBC program aims to implement a mechanisms-focused, experimental medicine approach to behavior change research and to develop the tools required to implement such an approach. The experimental medicine approach involves: identifying an intervention target, developing measures to permit verification of the target, engaging the target through experimentation or intervention, and testing the degree to which target engagement produces the desired behavior change.
Within the SOBC Measures Repository, researchers have access to measures of mechanistic targets that have been (or are in the processing of being) validated by SOBC Research Network Members and other experts in the field. The SOBC Validation Process includes three important stages of evaluation for each proposed measure: Identification, Measurement, and Influence.
The first stage of validation requires a measure to be Identified within the field; there must be theoretical support for the specific measure of the proposed mechanistic target or potential mechanism of behavior change. This evidence may include references for the proposed measure, or theoretical support for the construct that the proposed measure is intended to assess. The second stage of validation requires demonstration that the level and change in level of the chosen mechanistic target can be Measured with the proposed measure (assay). For example, if the proposed measure is a questionnaire, the score on the measure should indicate the activity of the target process, and it must have strong psychometric properties. The third stage of validation requires demonstration that the measure can be Influenced; there must be evidence that the measured target is malleable and responsive to manipulation. Evidence relating to each stage includes at least one peer-reviewed publication or original data presentation (if no peer-reviewed research is available to support the claim) and is evaluated by SOBC Research Network Members and experts in the field.
Once a measure has gone through these three stages, it will then either be Validated or Not validated according to SOBC Research Network standards. If a measure is Validated, then change in the measured target was reliably associated with Behavior Change. If a measure is Not validated, then change in the measured target was not reliably associated with Behavior Change. Why would we share measures that are not validated? The SOBC Research Network values open, rigorous, and transparent research. Our goal is to make meaningful progress and develop replicable and effective interventions in behavior change science. Therefore, the SOBC sees value in providing other researchers in the field with information regarding measures that work and measures that fall short for specific targets. Further, a measure that is not validated for one target in one population may be validated in another target or population.
Want to learn more? For any questions regarding the SOBC Validation Process or Measures Repository, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Has the mechanism been identified as a potential target for behavior change? This section summarizes theoretical support for the mechanism.
Have the psychometric properties of this measure been assessed? This section includes information such as content validity, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability.
Has a study manipulation led to change in the mechanism? This section addresses evidence that this measure is modifiable by experimental manipulation or clinical intervention.
Has a change in this mechanism been associated with behavior change? This section addresses empirical evidence that causing change in the measure reliably produces subsequent behavior change.