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Synopsis of the Derogatis Affects Balance Scale
(DABS/DABS-SF)

Author
Derogatis, Leonard R.

Title
Derogatis Affects Balance Scale

Source
Clinical Psychometric Research Inc., 
1228 Wine Spring Lane, Towson, MD 21204

Instrument Development
	Year Developed: 1975, 1995
	Primary Measurement Constructs: Principal dimensions of positive and negative 
emotional experience, with a particular emphasis on affects balance.

Description
The DABS is a multidimensional self-report mood and affects inventory comprised of 40 
adjective-items.  The DABS measures affectivity and affects balance via 8 primary affects 
dimensions and five global scores.  The positive affects dimensions are labeled joy, 
contentment, vigor and affection.  The negative dimensions are anxiety, depression, guilt 
and hostility.  The DABS global scores consist of the Positive Total score (PTOT), Negative 
Total score (NTOT), and the Affects Balance Index (ABI).  Recently, two additional globals, 
the Affects Expressiveness Index (AEI) and the Positive Affects Ratio (PAR), were 
developed, and a brief form of the scale, the DABS-SF, has been normed and introduced.  

The primary dimensions of the DABS are designed to reflect the principal	components 
of positive and negative emotional experience, while the five global scores are intended to 
communicate an overall or summary picture of the respondent's emotional status and well-
being.  The Positive Affects Total (PTOT) is defined as the sum of all scores on the four 
positive affects dimensions of joy, contentment, vigor and affection.  Similarly, the Negative 
Affects Total (NTOT) is represented as the sum of scores on the four negative dimensions 
of anxiety, depression, guilt and hostility.  The Affects Balance Index (ABI) is algebraically 
defined as (PTOT-NTOT)/ 20, and conveys the degree of balance or symmetry between 
positive and negative emotional experiences.  The Affects Expressiveness Index (AEI) is 
defined as the sum total of affective expression, regardless of valence (i.e., regardless of 
positive or negative direction).  It illustrates the individual's affective "charge" or total level of 
affectivity.  The Positive Affects Ratio (PAR) illustrates a distinct approach to measuring 
global affective status.  It is defined as the ratio of positive affectivity to total affectivity (i.e., 
positive plus negative affectivity) on the DABS.  The PAR reflects the proportion of affective 
experience represented as positive emotion.

Norms and Standardized Scores
Norms have been developed for both the DABS and the DABS-SF. In the case of the 
former, the norm is based on approximately 500 community respondents.  The DABS-SF 
norm is currently based on approximately 300 community individuals.  On both versions of 
the test, slight gender differences have been found to exist on several DABS measures.  
They are minimal, however, and judged as clinically insignificant, thereby avoiding the 
necessity for gender-keyed norms. 

Both DABS and DABS-SF norms are represented as standardized scores in terms of Area 
T-scores.  The Area transformation possesses distinct advantages over Linear 
transformations in that the former provide accurate percentile equivalents (i.e., T-score
of 30=2nd centile; T-score of 40=16th centile; T-score of 50=50th centile; T-score of 60 = 
84th centile; T-score of 70=98th centile, etc.).  This important characteristic of area-
transformations is only true of linear-transformations when the underlying raw score 
distributions are perfectly normal.  

Instrument Type
Clinical/Research Instrument, Self-Report

Languages Available
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, French Canadian, Icelandic, Indian, Korean, Norwegian, 
Spanish and Turkish.

Item Format
The DABS is comprised of 40 single-word, adjective items which describe various positive 
and negative mood states.  Each adjective is rated by the respondent relative to his/her 
recent personal experience on 5-point Likert-type scales, ranging from 0="never" to 
4="always".  The DABS requires approximately 3-5 minutes to complete under typical 
circumstances.  The DABS-SF is comprised of 20 adjective items represented in the same 
format and requires approximately 2-4 minutes to complete.  The DABS-SF is scored only 
in terms of the 5 global scores.


Reliability and Validity
As has been pointed out numerous times in various texts on psychological measurement, 
reliability has to do with the precision or accuracy of measurement, while validity addresses 
the essence of the attribute under assessment.  Demonstrations of the former are typically 
established through one or more highly specific sets of operations, while confirmation of the 
latter is much more programmatic, requiring multiple experiments and empirical studies.  
Viewed from one perspective, the validation process is unending, since the limits of 
generalizability (i.e., valid application) of a substantive psychological measuring instrument 
are constantly being tested, expanded and refined.



	Reliability of the DABS: 	In the case of self-report inventories, there are usually 
two essential forms of reliability: internal consistency  reliability, and test-retest.   Internal 
consistency reliability is a measure of homogeneity or consistency of item selection; it 
reflects the degree to which the items chosen to operationalize the test or subtest in 
question are drawn from the same population of items.  Test-retest reliability is a measure of 
temporal stability; it demonstrates the degree to which scores achieved at a particular time 
of assessment correlate with scores achieved on subsequent assessment occasions.  

	Both internal consistency and test retest coefficients have been empirically 
established for the DABS and are given in detail in Derogatis & Rutigliano (1996).  In 
summary, coefficients alpha () based on a sample of 355 psychiatric inpatients, ranged 
from a low of .79 for anxiety to a high of .85 for depression, vigor and affection. Global 
coefficients were in the low to mid .90's.  Test-retest coefficients (rtt) were reported based on 
a small sample of 16 primary breast cancer patients, with one week separating the two 
assessment occasions.  Coefficients for the  primary DABS dimensions ranged from a low 
of .79 for hostility to a high of .84 for contentment; stability coefficients for the globals were 
all in the low .80's.

	Validation of Dimensional Structure:  	An important demonstration in the 
construct validation of a multidimensional psychological test involves the verification of 
dimensional structure.  The operational definitions (i.e., dimensions) of the primary 
hypothesized constructs measured by the test require confirmation in terms of real world 
data.  In the case of the DABS, validation requires verification at two distinct levels of 
conceptual structure:  At a fundamental level, the 8 hypothesized primary affects 
dimensions, and at a broader conceptual level, the overarching constructs of positive and 
negative affectivity.  To achieve verification of dimensional structure, admissions DABS 
from 355 psychiatric inpatients at a private psychiatric hospital were scored and subjected 
to principal components analysis with an orthogonal varimax rotation.  Six factors or 
dimensions were recovered which met the Scree criterion and accounted for approximately 
70% of the variance in the correlation matrix.  Three factors emerged which clearly reflected 
positive affects dimensions: a combined joy/contentment dimension, an affection dimension, 
and a vigor dimension.  On the negative side, the largest factor represented a combined 
depression/guilt factor, with two additional components clearly reflecting anxiety and 
hostility.  Although not a perfect recovery of the hypothesized 8-factor structure, the analysis 
did confirm the majority of hypothesized constructs.  In order to verify the higher-order 
factors of positive and negative affectivity, the primary dimension correlation matrix was also 
subjected to principal components analysis with orthogonal varimax rotation.  Two principal 
components were identified which accounted for 72.2% of the variance.  The factor 
structure derived from this analysis clearly identified positive and negative affectivity as the 
two superordinate dimensions measured by the DABS (Derogatis & Rutigliano, 1996).

Although non-dimensional, it is worth noting that the five global scores of the DABS-SF 
correlate from between .94 to .97 with corresponding measures from the DABS.
	Predictive Validity:   When most clinicians and researchers speak about the validity 
of a psychological outcome measure they are usually referring to its predictive validity.  
Predictive validity addresses the practical utility of the test: how well, for example, it 
identifies positive cases, discriminates effective from ineffective treatments, distinguishes 
treatment responders from non-responders, or correlates with other independent measures 
of outcome.  The DABS has proven highly effective as a primary outcome measure in all of 
these clinical research contexts.  In the citations that follow, the DABS has demonstrated 
high effects sensitivity in such diverse contexts as psychosocial oncology, coping with loss, 
stress paradigms, pharmacotherapy outcomes, psychotherapy outcomes, affective 
disorders and sexual dysfunctions.

How to Obtain
The DABS and DABS-SF are distributed exclusively by Clinical Psychometric Research 
Inc., 1228 Wine Spring Lane, Towson, MD 21204.  Phone 1-800-245-0277; 1-(410) 321-
6165; FAX 1-(410) 321-6341.

Copyright Owner
Leonard R. Derogatis, Ph.D.

Principal Citations

Derogatis, LR (1996) Derogatis Affects Balance Scale (DABS): Preliminary Scoring, 
Procedures & Administration Manual.  Baltimore, MD, Clinical Psychometric Research.

Derogatis, LR & Rutigliano, PJ (1996) Derogatis Affects Balance Scale (DABS).  In B. 
Spilker (Ed.) Quality of Life and Pharmacoeconomics In Clinical Trials, 2nd Ed.  Lippincott-
Raven, Philadelphia, PA.

Derogatis LR, Abeloff MD & Melisaratos, N. (1979) Psychological coping mechanisms and 
survival time in metastatic breast cancer.  JAMA .242: 1504-1508.

Derogatis LR & Meyer JK. (1979) A psychological profile of the sexual dysfunctions.  
Archives of Sexual Behavior.  8, 201-223.

Garamoni GL, Reynolds CF, Thase ME, Frank, E & Fasiczka AL.(1992) Shifts in 
	affective balance during therapy of major depression.  J Consulting & Clinical 
Psychology 60, 260-266.

Rabins PV, Fitting MD, Eastham J & Fetting J. (1990) The emotional impact of caring for 
the chronically ill.  Psychosomatics. 31, 331-336.

Watson D & Tellegen A. (1985) Toward a consensual structure of mood.  Psychological 
Bulletin, 98, 219-235.
 
1228 Wine Spring Lane, Towson, MD 21204, USA Phone: 1-800-245-0277 Fax: 1-410-321-6341
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