State-Trait Anxiety Inventory

Purpose: Designed to study anxiety.

Population: Grades 9-16 and adults.

Score: 2 scores: state anxiety and trait anxiety.

Time: (10-20) minutes.

Author: Charles D. Spielberger, Richard L. Gorusch, and Robert E. Lushene.

Publisher: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.

Description: The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) was initially conceptualized as a research instrument for the study of anxiety in adults. It is a self-report assessment device which includes separate measures of state and trait anxiety. According to the author, state anxiety reflects a "transitory emotional state or condition of the human organism that is characterized by subjective, consciously perceived feelings of tension and apprehension, and heightened autonomic nervous system activity." State anxiety may fluctuate over time and can vary in intensity. In contrast, trait anxiety denotes "relatively stable individual differences in anxiety proneness . . ." and refers to a general tendency to respond with anxiety to perceived threats in the environment.

Scoring and Norms: Scores on the STAI have a direct interpretation: high scores on their respective scales mean more trait or state anxiety and low scores mean less. Both percentile ranks and standard (T) scores are available for male and female working adults in three age groups (19-39, 40-49, 50-69), male and female high school and college students, male military recruits, male neuropsychiatric patients, male medical patients, and male prison inmates.

Reliability: The stability of the STAI scales was assessed on male and female samples of high school and college students for test-retest intervals ranging from one hour to 104 days. The magnitude of the reliability coefficients decreased as a function of interval length. For the Trait-anxiety scale the coefficients ranged from .65 to .86, whereas the range for the State-anxiety scale was .16 to .62. This low level of stability for the State-anxiety scale is expected since responses to the items on this scale are thought to reflect the influence of whatever transient situational factors exist at the time of testing.

Validity: Correlations are presented in the manual between this scale and other measures of trait-anxiety: the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale, the IPAT Anxiety Scale, and the Multiple Affect Adjective Check List. These correlations are .80,.75, and .52, respectively.

Suggested Uses: Recommended for studying anxiety in research and clinical settings.