Vol.2, No.8, 862-877 (2010)
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
Openly accessible at
Role of irrational beliefs in depression and anxiety:
a review
K. Robert Bridges*, Richard J. Harnish
Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, New Kensington, USA; *Corresponding Author: krb3@psu.edu
Received 23 February 2010; revised 19 April 2010; accepted 20 April 2010.
Irrational beliefs play a central role in cognitive
theory and therapy; they have been shown to be
related to a variety of disorders such as de-
pression and anxiety. Irrational beliefs, which
can be assessed via clinical interviewing tech-
niques, are frequently assessed by self-report
measures, both clinically and for research pur-
poses. Much of the research demonstrating the
effect of irrational beliefs has utilized such
measures. The present article reviews the em-
pirical work on irrational beliefs assessment
and identifies 25 scales and techniques. The
measures are organized according to their theo-
retical affiliation (i.e., either the Ellis or Beck
model), with the goal of providing investigators
a source to identify the available tests, their
shortcomings, and potential applications. The
authors conclude with recommendations which
would strengthen empirical cohesion and pre-
cision in the measurement of irrational beliefs.
Keywords: Depression; Anxiety; Depressive
Disorders; Anxiety Disorders; Manifest Anxiety
Scale; Psychological Tests; Personality Inventory
Irrational beliefs, a central idea in cognitive theory
and therapy, have been shown to play a primary role in
numerous disorders, including depression and anxiety.
[1-3] Because of these beliefs, depressed and anxious
persons systematically distort the meaning of events to
interpret their experiences in a sustained, negative, self-
defeating way [4]. Given the importance of irrational
beliefs in the etiology of these disorders, we submit that
clinicians and researchers should use the most psycho-
metrically sound tests when measuring this construct.
However, identifying the most appropriate test is be-
coming more difficult owing to the increasing number
and variety of irrational beliefs measures appearing in
the literature. Despite the importance of irrational beliefs
assessment, there have been no comprehensive reviews
of the tests based on both the theories of Albert Ellis and
Aaron Beck currently available to clinicians and inves-
Most of the tests of irrational beliefs developed thus
far have grown out of the work of Ellis, who developed
rational-emotive behavior therapy or REBT [5], and
Beck, who was instrumental in creating cognitive ther-
apy or CT [2]. These measures have been used in re-
search and clinical assessment for over 40 years; Jones’
1968-69 Irrational Beliefs Test was the most successful
of the early measures [6]. As noted by Jones and Trower
[7], the theories developed by Ellis and Beck are equally
appealing because of their application to clinical inter-
vention. However, they make different claims about the
nature of the irrational beliefs that are fundamental to
many disorders, and problematic behaviors and emotions.
The measures based on these two models reflect the ma-
jor theoretical differences between Ellis and Beck.
Ellis developed rational-emotive therapy (RET), now
known as rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT) in
1955 [8] as a product of his dissatisfaction with the ef-
fectiveness and time required of psychoanalysis. Spe-
cifically, he rejected its lengthy therapeutic process and
its focus on early-life influences [9]. The main idea be-
hind REBT is that the most important causes of self-
defeating and inappropriate behaviors are not the events
but the beliefs about the events. Included is the thesis
that emotions are caused by our thoughts, and emotional
dysfunction is caused by irrational thoughts and beliefs.
REBT is based on the ABC model of psychopathology
[10] in which people experience unpleasant activating
environmental events. These activating events (A) do not
cause disturbed emotional and behavioral consequences
(C); instead, they are caused by the distorted/irrational
beliefs (B) about the event. Initially, Ellis proposed 11
types of irrational beliefs. Subsequent developments in
REBT created four categories: demandingness, awfulizing
(or catastrophizing), low frustration tolerance, and global
K. R. Bridges et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010) 862-877
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evaluation (or self-downing) [11].
The core irrational belief in REBT is demandingness
[12]. It refers to absolutistic requirements expressed in
terms of “must’s”, “have to’s”, “ought’s”, and “should’s”.
The other beliefs include: awfulizing beliefs, which refer
to the evaluation of a bad event as worse than it should
be; low frustration tolerance, the belief that it is not pos-
sible to bear certain circumstances (which makes a situa-
tion intolerable); and global evaluation, which describes
pervasive negative ratings about the world and oneself.
These four irrational beliefs are considered to be the
fundamental etiological factors in emotional and behav-
ior disorders.
Like Ellis, Beck [13] was disenchanted with psycho-
analysis and developed another version of the ABC
model. Beck, who was instrumental in creating cognitive
therapy (CT), believed that many disorders are produced
and maintained by negative beliefs and thinking styles
that people have about themselves, their circumstances,
and their future. Such cognitive errors include a belief in
excessive personal causality for negative events and the
belief that the worst possible outcome is the most likely.
These cognitive distortions guide a person’s interpreta-
tion of new experiences and increase the likelihood of
behavior disorders. For Beck, negative life events acti-
vate this cognitive triad of irrational beliefs: negative be-
liefs about oneself (“I’m not good enough.”), the world
(“This is an awful place.”), and the future (“Something
bad will always happen.”). These irrational beliefs are
activated by negative life events and produce systematic
errors in thinking. The most frequent errors include “all
or nothing” thinking (the tendency to view the event in
only two ways, versus a continuum), arbitrary inference
(a predisposition to reach negative conclusions without
supporting evidence), selective abstraction (the tendency
to pay attention to one negative detail as opposed to the
whole picture), magnification/minimization (unreasona-
bly minimizing the positive and maximizing the negative
when evaluating a situation), and labeling (globally
evaluating things negatively while dismissing any evi-
dence that supports a less extreme view).
While the theories of Beck and Ellis share fundamen-
tal ideas about the basic reasons for psychological dis-
orders (i.e., Ellis and Beck proposed therapies that are a
mixture of cognitive and behavior therapy, both use an
ABC model that posits dysfunctional cognitions cause
psychopathology, and that such cognitions are distorted,
inaccurate or irrational), slight differences emerge be-
tween the two. Specifically, the theories make different
claims about the nature of irrational beliefs that are fun-
damental to the development of many disorders [5]. For
Ellis, psychopathology is due to repeated focusing on
distress-producing thoughts (e.g., I should be liked by
everyone), while Beck proposed psychopathology is
caused by illogical thought processes (e.g., all or nothing
thinking). That is Ellis’ theory seems to be more focused
on the particular thoughts that cause emotional distress;
whereas, Beck’s theory seems to be more focused on the
thought processes themselves that produce emotional
upset. (See Dryden and Ellis [5] for a more detailed
analysis of these differences.).
The two theories have generated numerous measures
of irrational beliefs. Some of the tests of irrational be-
liefs generated by these theories have been widely used
and have undergone numerous revisions, while others
have seen only limited use. What follows is a review of
25 measures of irrational beliefs from their date of in-
ception, including their theoretical affiliation, evidence
of their reliability and validity, and their revision history.
2.1. How the Measures Were Selected
To identify the measures to be included in this review, a
literature search was performed on PsycINFO, an elec-
tronic database of the psychological literature that spans
work published from the 1800s to the present. PsycINFO
searches included such terms as “measures of irrational
thoughts”, “thinking”, “cognitions”, and “beliefs”. Once
articles were identified, we narrowed our review through
the following criteria: 1) the measure was published or
completed after 1968, when the Irrational Beliefs Test
[14], noted earlier as the most successful early test, first
appeared; 2) the measure, along with a scoring key, was
readily available; and 3) the measure was written in
English or had an English language version available. Of
the 31 articles describing an irrational belief measure we
found, six were eliminated based on our aforementioned
criteria resulting in a review of 25 measures. See Table 1
for an alphabetical list of measures reviewed, including
their authors, type of scale or response, and sample items.
Below in the body of the text, the measures are pre-
sented in their chronological order. In Table 1, the
measures are presented in alphabetical order so that in-
vestigators may readily locate the measures reviewed.
2.2. Evaluation Criteria
For each measure of irrational beliefs, we evaluated and
reviewed the measure’s reliability and validity. Reliability
refers to the consistency of a measure while validity refers
to how well a test measures the characteristics it claims to
measure. We rated measures that possessed a reliability
coefficient of 0.90 or higher as excellent, those with a reli-
ability coefficient of 0.80 to 0.89 as very good, those with
a reliability coefficient of 0.70 to 0.79 as good, and those
with a reliability coefficient of 0.60 to 0.69 as suspect.
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Table 1. Description of Irrational Belief Scales.
Name of
Known As
of Items/
of Fators
or Sub-
Scale Source Original
Purpose Sample Items
Irrational Belief Scales Based on the Ellis Model
Belief Scale
M.S. Belief
Scale, MSBS,
Irrational Belief
Malouff &
20 items/
1 factor
Journal of
and Clinical
Depression, neuroti-
“It is terrible when things do not go
the way I would like.”
“Life should be easier than it is.”
“To be happy, I must maintain the
approval of all the persons I consider
Camatta & Na-
goshi Scale/No/
Camatta &
10 items/
Not re-
Not re-
Clinical and
Predictor of alcohol
use problems.
“It is awful and catastrophic when
things are not the way I’d like them
to be.”
“I have little or no ability to control
the sorrows and disturbances in my
“Some people are wicked and should
be severely blamed and punished for
their wickedness.”
Child and Ado-
lescent Scale of
Short form
Bernard &
Laws, 1987
44 items/
6 sub-
Journal of
apy: An In-
Emotional problems;
in younger popula-
“I can’t stand having to behave well
and follow rules.”
“It’s really awful to have lots of
homework to do.”
“Teachers should really act fairly all
the time.”
Common Beliefs
Short form Ex-
ists (CBS-II SF)/
54 items/
9 sub-
contact scale
author for a
Clinical instrument
to distinguish clients
from non-clients
(clinical population
not identified); Anxi-
ety, depression.
“There is a right way to do every-
“Being approved by others is very
“A person can’t help feeling guilty
about wrongdoings.”
Ellis Emotional
Efficiency In-
ventory (EEEI)/
Ellis, 1992 60 items/
3 factors
naire: The
elegant solu-
tion to emo-
tional and
Designed to measure
an individual’s abil-
ity to cope with emo-
tional dysfunction
associated with awfu-
lizing, ego-disturbance
and discomfort dis-
“I often pity myself when people
treat me unfairly.”
“I am quite pessimistic and often see
things in a bad or hopeless light.”
“I often feel insulted and embar-
Evaluative Be-
liefs Scale
Trower, &
18 items/
3 factors
Therapy and
Research; Nature of
evaluative beliefs in
individuals with
anger disorders.
“I am a total failure.”
“People think I’m a bad person.”
“Other people are worthless.”
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General Attitude
and Belief Scale
Belief Scale 2,
ABS 2,
ppe, Leaf,
Exner, &
72 items/
7 sub-
contact scale
authors for a
Research; To unravel
the dynamics of be-
havior disorders, the
irrational beliefs
behind them.
“I can’t stand hassles in my life.”
“I cannot tolerate not doing well at
important tasks and it is unbearable
to fail.”
“I must be liked by important people,
and I will not accept not being liked
by them.”
Idea Inventory/
Crisci, &
an, 1977
4 factors
Journal of
To measure rational-
ity across age (i.e.,
developmental trends
in rationality).
“I feel like I’m a stupid person when I
don’t do as well as my friends.”
“I constantly worry about dangerous
accidents occurring.”
“I get upset and angry then my plans
go wrong.”
Irrational Beliefs
Inventory (IBI)/
an, Timm-
erman &
mp, 1994
50 items/
5 sub-
Journal of
Research; Role
of irrational beliefs in
depression. Also
phobias, OCD, pro-
crastination, para-
normal beliefs.
“I hate to fail at anything.”
“I often get excited or upset when
things go wrong.”
“I avoid facing my problems.”
Irrational Beliefs
Survey (IBS)/
Beliefs Scale
& Ander-
son, 1990
11 items/
4 factors
Journal of
Research instrument;
Designed to opera-
tionalize Ellisonian
irrational beliefs.
“I am often upset over other people’s
“It is easier to avoid some of life’s
difficulties and responsibilities than
it is to face them.”
“I do not believe I am worthwhile
unless I am thoroughly competent at
everything I do.”
Irrational Beliefs
Test (IBT)/
IBT Revised
(Woods, 1992)/
8 factors
contact scale
author for a
Research; To identify
the role of irrational
beliefs in depression,
assertiveness, locus of
control, self-esteem,
social skills deficits,
“I dislike for others to make my
decisions for me.”
“It is annoying but not upsetting to
be criticized.”
“I find it hard to go against what
others think.”
Cognitions In-
ventory (PCI)/
Flett, Hew-
itt, Blank-
stein &
Gray, 1998
25 items/
1 factor
Journal of
and Social
A measure of auto-
matic thoughts that
reflect personality
factors associated
with vulnerability to
psychological disor-
ders; specifically
anxiety, depression.
“Why can’t I be perfect?”
“Things are seldom ideal.”
“I am too much of a perfectionist.”
Rational Behav-
ior Inventory
Shorkey &
38 items/
11 factors
and Psycho-
logical Meas-
Clinical instrument
for assessment,
treatment planning,
& evaluation of cli-
ents, by therapists
who used RET.
“I find that my occupation and social
life tend to make me unhappy.”
“I usually try to avoid chores which I
dislike doing.”
“I worry about little things.”
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and Affective
State Inventory
bless, &
5 items/
10 factors
Therapy and
Useful in assessing
dimensions important
to REBT; that certain
classes of maladap-
tive cognitions are
linked to emotional
distress (anxiety,
depression). There is
also a SSSASI-
thoughts measure.
In response to situations;
“I’ve really done a lousy job. I’ve let
everybody down. My work just
hasn’t been any good. I don’t think I
can do any better.”
“I wish I had done better. I still think
my work is good and with a little
more persistence, I will do better in
the next contest.”
“I guess it really is difficult for peo-
ple to straighten things out some-
times. I hope when we see each other
again we’ll be able to talk without so
much conflict.”
Irrational Beliefs
Inventory (SIBI)/
24 items/
6 factors
Stress man-
agement: A
sive handbook
of techniques
and strategies
Research instrument;
Attempts to address
the issue of the factor
structure of irrational
belief items “to iden-
tify a core set of
replicable and mean-
ingful irrational be-
lief factors”.
“I always need help on important
“Things didn’t turn out like I wanted;
this is a disaster.”
“I’m just a failure.”
Survey of Per-
Beliefs (SPB)/
& Dill,
50 items/
5 factors
Journal of
Identifying irrational
beliefs in clinical &
university popula-
tions. Expression of
anger, hopelessness,
anxiety, depression,
all due to the RET
theoretical emphasis
on irrational think-
“There are some things in life that I
just can’t stand.”
“There are times when awful things
“I clearly should not make some of
the mistakes I make.”
Irrational Belief Scales Based on the Beck Model
Thoughts Ques-
piece ATQ-N/
Hollon &
30 items/
4 factors
Therapy and
Designed to measure
automatic thoughts
associated with de-
“I can’t finish anything.”
“I’m a loser.”
“My life is a mess.”
Checklist (CCL)/
Steer, Ei-
delson, &
26 items/
2 factors
Journal of
Designed to measure
the content-specificity
hypothesis of the
cognitive model by
measuring the fre-
quency of automatic
thoughts relevant to
anxiety and depres-
“I will never overcome my prob-
“I’m a social failure.”
“People will laugh at me.”
Cognitive Triad
Inventory (CTI)/
Boyer, &
36 items/
6 factors
Journal of
and Clinical
Role of the cognitive
triad in the develop-
ment and mainte-
nance of depression.
“I can’t do anything right.”
“There is no reason for me to be
hopeful about my future.”
“My family doesn’t care what hap-
pens to me.”
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Crandell Cogni-
tions Inventory
Crandell &
bless, 1986
45 items/
4 factors
Research and
A measure of fre-
quency of depressive
thoughts; designed to
measure self-referent
statements associated
with depression.
“Everything I do is a failure.”
“I’ll never do as well as others.”
“Nothing seems exciting anymore.”
Attitudes Scale
Two parallel
40-item forms
& Beck,
9 factors
contact scale
authors for
Designed to measure
schemas constituting
predispositions to
“Being alone leads to unhappiness.”
“If I ask a question, it makes me look
“I am nothing if a person I love
doesn’t love me.”
Cognitive Error
24 vi-
Journal of
and Clinical
Measures cognitive
errors linked to de-
pression; Also looked
at levels of depres-
sion in bulimia.
“Last time you went skiing, you took
a hard fall and got shook up. You’re
supposed to go skiing this weekend
but think, ‘I’ll probably fall
and break my leg and there will be
no one to help me.’”
“You have been working for six
months as a car salesperson. You had
never been a salesperson before and
were just fired because you were not
meeting your quotas. You thought,
‘Why try to get another job, I’ll just
get fired. ’”
“Last night your spouse said s/he
thought you should have a serious
discussion about sex. You think to
yourself, ‘S/he hates the way we
make love.’”
Personality Be-
lief Question-
naire (PBQ)/
Beck &
Beck, 1991
9 sub-
contact scale
authors for a
Examines role of
irrational beliefs in
personality disorders:
Avoidant, obses-
dependent, narcissis-
tic, paranoid, and
“I am socially inept and socially
undesirable in work or social situa-
“Unpleasant feelings will escalate
and get out of control.”
“I am helpless when I’m left on my
Irrational Belief Scales Not Linked to Either the Ellis or Beck Model
Fear of Negative
Evaluation Scale
Watson &
Journal of
and Clinical
Assess degree of
apprehension at the
prospect of being
evaluated negatively.
“I often worry that I will say or do
wrong things.”
“I am frequently afraid of other peo-
ple noticing my shortcomings.”
“I worry about what kind of impres-
sion I make on people.”
Penn State Worry
Scale/ No/NA
Metzger, &
Research and
Identify the role of
worry in anxiety
“I worry all the time.”
“My worries overwhelm me.”
“Once I start worrying, I can’t stop.”
Next, we were interested in evaluating the measure’s
reported validity or how well the measure assesses what
it claims to measure. More specifically, three dimensions
of a measure’s validity were explored: 1) concurrent
validity or how well the measure correlates with another
related measure; 2) discriminant validity or how well the
K. R. Bridges et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010) 862-877
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measure fails to correlate with other measures, and 3)
construct validity or how well the measure has been op-
erationalized. Table 2 presents a summary of our psy-
chometric evaluation for each measure of irrational be-
liefs. The measures are ordered in such a way that those
that possess the strongest psychometric properties are
presented first, followed by those that possess weaker
psychometric properties. Given the large number of irra-
tional beliefs measures appearing in the literature, we
recommend that investigators utilize only those with the
most psychometric support.
3.1. Measures Based on the Ellis Model
Irrational Beliefs Test (IBT). Jones [14] developed the
100-item IBT which requires respondents to indicate
their level of agreement or disagreement with each of the
items on a 5-point scale. Half of the items indicate the
presence of a particular irrational belief, the other half its
absence. Lohr and Parkinson[15] reported that the IBT
demonstrated positive correlations with measures of
anxiety and depression. Whereas the IBT initially was
one of the most popular measures of irrational beliefs, its
use has gradually diminished due to criticisms that these
beliefs were not measured independently of the emo-
tional consequences they were hypothesized to cause [16].
Nonetheless, it still sees occasional use (see Munoz-
Eguileta [17]). Woods [18] argued that a modified IBT
could be useful; he identified 47 IBT items that meas-
ured beliefs and found that these items were related to
emotional distress, psychosomatic symptoms, and suici-
dal contemplation.
Rational Behavior Inventory (RBI). Developed by
Shorkey and Whiteman [19], the RBI is a 38-item in-
strument designed for use in the assessment and treat-
ment planning of REBT clients. The answers range from
strongly agree to strongly disagree on a 5-point Likert
scale which results in 11 rationality factors plus a total
rationality score. The RBI has been shown to correlate
highly with self-report measures of depression and anxi-
ety [20]. Along with the IBT, the RBI has been the most
frequently used measure of irrational cognitions [21] but
suffers from the same psychometric inadequacies as the
IBI: low reliabilities of its subscales and the confusion of
irrational cognitions with negative affect [22]. Indeed,
Keinhorst, van den Bout, and de Wilde [23] found that
only those items on the RBI that are emotion-bearing
correlate with emotional distress. Additional research on
the factor structure of the RBI suggested discarding
some of the items that loaded poorly in order to improve
the purity of RBI factors [24].
Idea Inventory. The Idea Inventory [25] is a 33-item,
3-point Likert scale comprised of the 11 original Ellis
irrational beliefs. The items are presented as an irrational
idea, and any disagreement represents rational thinking.
The measure results in a total irrationality score plus
scores on each individual belief. While Smith [26] noted
that this scale has shortcomings in that it does not meas-
ure ideas independently of emotional consequences,
Jacobsen, Tamkin, and Hyer [27] found that the inven-
tory had excellent internal consistency and strong dis-
criminant validity. However, Kassinove (personal com-
munication June 26, 2009) suggested that the Idea In-
ventory no longer be used as it is based on the original
Ellis formulation and was “very old.”
Common Beliefs Survey-III (CBS-III). The CBS-III
[28] is a 54-item measure with six, 9-item subscales;
each item is rated on a 5-point Likert-type scale. Agree-
ment indicates irrationality for 29 items and rationality
for 25 items. The CBS-III has demonstrated very good
psychometric properties [29] including satisfactory in-
ternal consistency, test-retest reliability, and convergent
and discriminant validity. For example, irrational beliefs
as measured by the CBS-III were found to be related to
substantial variance in two negative indices of well-
being, depression and anxiety [30]. Additionally, there is
the CBS-III SF (short form) with 19 items, which has
also demonstrated good psychometric properties [31].
The CBS-III continues to be used extensively.
The Situational Self-Statement and Affective State In-
ventory (SS SASI). The SSSASI [32] presents respon-
dents with five hypothetical irritating events and disap-
pointing outcomes; each vignette is followed by five
possible thoughts and five possible emotions the indi-
vidual might experience following the vignette. Having
read a vignette, the subject responds to five feeling
statements (angry, anxious, suspicious, depressed, and
hopeful) and five self-statements, indicating the level of
agreement with each one. Higher scores indicate greater
irrationality. The SSSASI is a measure of thoughts and
feelings that permits the determination of the relation
between cognitions and affective state, a central REBT
tenet (i.e., that maladaptive cognitions are linked to
emotional distress). Such correlations were found in
clinical and non-clinical populations [33]; clinical re-
spondents endorsed negative irrational thoughts signifi-
cantly more than non-clinical participants [34]. The
SSSASI has been found to have satisfactory internal
consistency and test-retest reliability, although lower
than that of the CBS-III, perhaps due to its assessment of
reactions to highly specific situations [34].
The Belief Scale (BS). The BS [35] is a 20-item meas-
ure of Ellis’ original list of irrational beliefs. It was de-
signed to correct the content validity problems of previ-
ous measures such as the IBT and RBI. Each item is
ated on a 5-point scale, and item ratings are summed to r
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Table 2. Comparison of Psychometric Properties.
Name of Scale/Other
Forms/Also Known As Author(s) Reliabilitya Concurrent
Irrational Belief Scales Based on the Ellis Model
Child and Adolescent Scale of
Irrationality (CASI)/Short form
Bernard & Laws, 1987**** ++  ††
General Attitude and Belief Scale
(GABS)/No/Attitudes Belief
Scale 2, ABS 2,A&B II, ABS II
DiGiuseppe, Leaf,
Exner, & Robin, 1988**** ++
 ††
Perfectionism Cognitions Inven-
tory (PCI)/No/NA
Flett, Hewitt, Blank-
stein, & Gray, 1998 **** ++
 ††
Situational Self-Statement and
Affective State Inventory
Harrell, Chambless, &
Calhoun, 1981 ****
Belief Scale (BS)/No/M.S. Belief
Scale, MSBS, Irrational Belief
Scale, IBS
Malouff & Schutte,
1986 *** ++
 ††
Common Beliefs Survey-III
Short form Exists (CBS-II
Bessai, 1977 *** ++  ††
Irrational Beliefs Inventory (IBI)/
Koopmans, Sander-
man, Timmerman &
Emmelkamp, 1994
*** ++
 ††
Survey of Personal Beliefs
Demaria, Kassinove,
& Dill, 1989 *** ++
Idea Inventory
Kassinove, Crisci, &
Tiegerman, 1977
Split-half, first
third-second third = 0.84,
first third-final third =
0.90, second third-final
third = 0.91
Evaluative Beliefs Scale
Chadwick, Trower, &
Dagnan, 1999 *** + †
Irrational Beliefs Test (IBT)/IBT
Revised (Woods, 1992)/NA Jones, 1968 ** ++  ††
Irrational Beliefs Survey
(IBS)/No/Irrational Beliefs Scale
Watson, Vassar, Ple-
mel, Herder, Manifold,
& Anderson, 1990
** +
Camatta & Nagoshi
Camatta & Nagoshi,
1995 ** +
Ellis Emotional Efficiency In-
ventory (EEEI)/No/NA Ellis, 1992 ** + †
Rational Behavior Inventory
Shorkey & Whiteman,
1977 Split half = 0.73 +
K. R. Bridges et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010) 862-877
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
Smith Irrational Beliefs Inven-
tory (SIBI)/No/NA Smith, 2002 *
Irrational Belief Scales Based on the Beck Model
Automatic Thoughts
(ATQ-30)/Companion piece
Hollon & Kendall,
1980 **** ++
 ††
Personality Belief Questionnaire
PBQ-Short Form/NA
Beck & Beck, 1991 **** ++  ††
Cognitive Triad Inventory
Beckham, Leber, Wat-
kins, Boyer, & Cook,
**** +
Crandell Cognitions Inventory
Crandell & Chambless,
1986 **** +
Cognition Checklist (CCL)/
Beck, Brown, Steer,
Eidelson, & Riskind,
Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale
Two parallel 40-item forms
Weissman & Beck,
1978 *** ++
 ††
General Cognitive Error Ques-
tionnaire (CEQ)/No/NA LeFebvre, 1981 *** +
Irrational Belief Scales Not Linked to Either the Ellis or Beck Model
Fear of Negative Evaluation
Scale (FNE)/No/NA Watson & Friend, 1969**** ++  ††
Penn State Worry Scale/
Meyer, Miller,
Metzger, & Borkovec,
**** ++
 ††
Note: Within a group, measures are ordered based on the strength of their psychometric properties; aCronbach’s alpha for total scale; subscales may
have lower Cronbach’s alpha (**** 0.9; *** 0.8, ** 0.7; * 0.7); bSignificant correlations with three types of measures that should be related
were examined: self-reported psychopathology, clinical ratings, and behavior or performance ratings. ++ at least two of the three types of concurrent
validity reported in the literature; + at least one type of concurrent validity reported in the literature; cSignificant differences between the measure and
other, theoretically distinct measures. at least two studies reported adequate discriminant validity; at least one study reported adequate dis-
criminant validity; dSignificant differences between participants high and low on the symptomatology or those who have differences in symptomatol-
ogy, or diagnosed and undiagnosed participants. †† at least two studies reported adequate construct validity; † at least one study reported adequate
construct validity.
produce a total score. The Belief Scale is referred to by
several titles in the literature, including the MSB and
M.S. Belief Scale [36], the MSBS [37], and the Irra-
tional Beliefs Scale or IBS [38]. The BS has shown good
internal consistency and stability, and the scale has cor-
related highly with other measures of irrational beliefs.
BS scores were positively correlated with levels of de-
pression and anxiety in psychiatric patients [36].
The Child and Adolescent Scale of Irrationality
(CASI). The CASI [39] was designed to assess adoles-
cents’ overall level of irrational thinking; it consists of
44 statements set in a Likert-type format, which yields
six sub-scores and a total irrationality score. There are
three clusters of general irrational ideas and two irra-
tional belief scales within each of the three clusters for
examples see Burnett [40]. An abridged version with 25
items, the CASI-Revised, was developed by Burnett.[41]
There is evidence, provided by Burnett [40], of sound
K. R. Bridges et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010) 862-877
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reliability and construct validity. Bernard and Cronan
[12] found significant correlations between the CASI
and trait anxiety.
The General Attitude and Belief Scale (GABS). The
GABS [42] was developed to take account of three con-
tent domains which are recurrent themes in irrational
beliefs (achievement, approval, and comfort), and four
processes of irrational thinking (demandingness, awfu-
lizing, self-downing, and low frustration tolerance). Ac-
cording to Bernard [43] the GABS has good reliability
and convergent/discriminant validity. Using this scale,
investigators found a direct relationship between irra-
tional beliefs and depression [44]. The literature is not
always clear about the name and history of this measure,
however. It has been referred to as the Attitudes and Be-
liefs Scale 2 or ABS 2 [45], the A & B II [18], and the
ABS II [46] with DiGiuseppe et al. [42] as its authors.
The Attitude and Belief Scale has been attributed to Bur-
gess [47] as well as DiGiuseppe & Leaf [48]. Research-
ers have reported on a 72-item version [43] and a 55-
item version [49] of the GABS. This measure does re-
quire the permission of its authors for use (i.e., Fulop,
personal communication, June 30, 2009).
The Survey of Personal Beliefs (SPB). The SPB [50] is
occasionally referred to as the Personal Beliefs Test or
PBT [51] in the literature. They are in fact the same test
(H. Kassinove, personal communication, June 29, 2009).
The SPB contains 50 items which are scored on a 6-
point Likert scale and is designed for people over 16
years of age. It includes items from the PBT which were
reworded to conform more clearly to REBT theory. Ini-
tial results with the SPB indicated satisfactory total and
scale reliability [50]. Validity research indicated that
total rationality was related to negative affect [52].
Irrational Beliefs Survey (IBS). The IBS [53] is an
11-item scale which, using simplified language, grew out
of an earlier measure of irrational thinking [54]. The
original test was based on an early formulation of Elli-
sonian [55] theory. Respondents answer via a 5-point
scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree.
Maltby and Day [56] found one factor in a non-clinical
population resulting in one composite score; while addi-
tion research [57] found a significant correlation be-
tween IBS scores and a depressive attributional style.
The IBS was not initially named by Watson et al. [53];
Day and Maltby [57] referred to it as the Irrational Be-
liefs Survey, while Egan, Canale, del Rosario, and White
[58] referred to it as the Irrational Beliefs Scale.
The Ellis Emotional Efficiency Inventory (EEEI). The
EEEI [59-60] assesses irrational and rational coping re-
sponses to past irrational beliefs instead of latent irra-
tional beliefs. The 60-item instrument is scored on a 5-
point Likert scale. It measures overall levels of REBT
disputing as well as three main factors: anti-awfulizing,
anti-self-downing, and anti-low-frustration tolerance dis-
putes. Poor coping on the EEEI is indicative of higher
long-term levels of emotional dysfunction. The EEEI
demonstrated a stable three-factor structure and strong
convergent/divergent validity [61].
Irrational Beliefs Inventory (IBI). This 50-item scale,
developed in the Netherlands by Koopmans, Sanderman,
Timmerman, and Emmelkamp [22], is based on the item
pool of the IBT and the RBI. The IBI is distinguishable
from these scales in that it measures cognitions rather
than negative affect, a criticism leveled at the IBT and
RBI. The IBI is answered via a 5-point scale and con-
sists of five subscales (worrying, rigidity, need for ap-
proval, problem avoidance, and emotional irresponsibil-
ity) plus a total score. Research has demonstrated con-
sistent psychometric properties across several cultures,
including the American version [62]; internal consis-
tency was found to be of an acceptable magnitude, and
the five subscales were found to be independent of each
other. The IBI has been used to investigate the role of
irrational beliefs in obsessive-compulsive disorder, so-
cial phobias, and therapy for depression [62].
Camatta and Nagoshi Scale. The irrational beliefs
scale of Camatta and Nagoshi [63], which is unnamed,
was designed to be a brief test of a respondent’s prone-
ness to Ellisonian irrational beliefs. According to its au-
thors, each of the 10 items describe one irrational belief
identified by Ellis [55]. The test was found to have good
internal reliability and to be a good predictor of alcohol
use problems [64].
The Perfectionism Cognitions Inventory (PCI). The
PCI [65] is a 25-item measure of automatic thoughts and
beliefs that perfection must be attained; the thoughts
assessed via the PCI are consistent with the observations
by Ellis [66] about irrational thinking and perfectionism.
The PCI differs from other measures in that it assesses
the frequency of these thoughts which had occurred
during the previous week. Respondents rate statements
about the need to be perfect on a scale of 0 (not at all) to
4 (all the time). Scores may fluctuate based on recent
experiences. The PCI was found to have an adequate
degree of internal consistency and validity [67]. Dys-
functional thinking as measured by the PCI has been
shown to be associated with higher levels of depressive
symptomatology and anxiety [67].
Evaluative Beliefs Scale (EBS). The EBS [3], devel-
oped in response to criticisms of earlier irrational beliefs
tests, is a distinctively cognitive measure of purely nega-
tive evaluative beliefs. It is an 18-item, self-report in-
strument constructed to measure negative person evalua-
tions across three dimensions: where an individual be-
lieves others are making evaluations of them, where the
K. R. Bridges et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010) 862-877
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individual makes an evaluation of him- or herself, and
where the individual evaluates others. The EBS was de-
signed to identify an individual’s global negative evalua-
tive beliefs. Item responses are made on a five-point
scale. The EBS was found to have good internal reliabil-
ity, an adequate factor structure, and good predictive
validity for anxiety and depressive symptoms [3].
Smith Irrational Beliefs Inventory (SIBI). The 24-item
SIBI [68] is situation specific in that it asks respondents
to rate on a 4-point Likert scale how much they dis-
played irrational thinking during a recent recalled
stressful situation. This format is used in order to be
consistent with Ellis’ [55] original conceptualization of
irrational beliefs as higher-order cognitions inaccessible
through simple self-report scales. Amutio and Smith [69]
found that the SIBI displayed a consistent seven-factor
structure across situational formats and cultures.
3.2. Measures Based on the Beck Model
The Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale (DAS). The DAS [70],
a 100-item, self-report instrument answered on a 7-point
Likert scale, was developed to assess dysfunctional be-
liefs and thoughts posited by Beck and his colleagues as
being associated with vulnerability to depression. It was
later transformed into two parallel 40-item forms, the
DAS-A and the DAS-B [71]. Reliability and validity
data for the DAS support its use as a measure of depres-
sionistic beliefs [72]; it has been argued that the DAS-A
is one of the most efficient instruments for measuring
the cognitive distortions associated with depression. [71]
DAS scores for outpatients being treated for depressive
disorders decreased following treatment [73]. The Dys-
functional Attitudes Scale for Medically Ill Elders or
DASMIE [74] incorporated items from the DAS along
with new items to measure dysfunctional attitudes
among the medically ill elderly.
Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire-30 (ATQ-30). In
the ATQ-30 [75], respondents indicate for each of 30
specific, negative thoughts how frequently the thought
has occurred to them during the past week. The ATQ-30
has high internal consistency and discriminates depressed
from non-depressed samples [76]. There are companion
pieces to the ATQ-30: the Automatic Thoughts Question-
naire-Positive or ATQ-P and the ATQ-N (Negative) [77].
The ATQ correlates inversely with depressive symptoms;
it distinguishes patients with depression from non-
patients in both frequency of negative thoughts and de-
gree of belief in these thoughts [78].
The General Cognitive Error Questionnaire (CEQ).
The CEQ [4], designed to measure cognitive errors re-
lated to general life experiences, provides 24 vignettes
followed by a dysfunctional cognition about the vignette.
Respondents rate, via a 5-point scale, how similar the
thought is to what they would think. Vignettes are cate-
gorized according to four types of cognitive errors iden-
tified by Beck, including catastrophizing, overgeneraliz-
ing, personalizing, and selective abstraction. High
test-retest, alternate form, and internal consistency reli-
abilities have been found, along with moderate correla-
tions with other depressive cognitions inventories [79].
The Cognitive Triad Inventory (CTI). The 36-item CTI
[80] utilizes a 7-point Likert-type scale to measure a
central component of Beck’s cognitive theory of depres-
sion, the cognitive triad. This includes negative views of
the self, the world, and the future. The CTI was devel-
oped to measure these negative views, which have been
empirically linked to depression [1]. The CTI, which has
items phrased in positive and negative directions, shows
good to excellent internal consistency, and the total score
correlates highly with measures of depression [81].
The Crandell Cognitions Inventory (CCI). The CCI
[82] is a 45-item self-report measure of the frequency of
depressive thoughts. Respondents rate on a 5-point scale
how frequently they think each self-statement. Higher
total scores indicate a higher frequency of depressive
thinking. A strength of the CCI is that it was developed
and normed with a clinical population. It has been dem-
onstrated to discriminate among depressed, non-de-
pressed psychiatric, and normal respondents, and has
high internal reliability [82].
The Cognition Checklist (CCL). The CCL [83] was
developed to measure the frequency of automatic
thoughts relevant to anxiety and depression. The CCL
has a 12-item subscale of anxious cognitions and a 14-
item subscale of depressed cognitions rated on a 5-point
scale. The measure contains irrational cognitions related
to danger, thought to be a characteristic of anxiety, plus
irrational cognitions related to depression to test explic-
itly the content-specificity hypothesis of the Beck model.
Patients diagnosed with anxiety disorders had higher
mean CCL anxiety scores while patients diagnosed with
depressive disorders had higher mean depression scores
supporting the validity of the CCL [83].
The Personality Belief Questionnaire (PBQ). The PBQ
[84] is a 126-item, self-report measure of beliefs related
to personality disorders. The PBQ includes 14 items,
each representing nine scales: Avoidant, Dependent, Ob-
sessive-Compulsive, Histrionic, Passive-Aggressive, Nar-
cissistic, Paranoid, Schizoid, and Antisocial personality
disorders. Good test-retest reliability and internal con-
sistency estimates were found for all of the PBQ scales,
and patients with specific personality disorders endorsed
dysfunctional beliefs consistent with their disorder [85].
The PBQ-Short Form (SF), a shorter and more refined
version [86], was found to be more desirable for clinical
and research purposes.
K. R. Bridges et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010) 862-877
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3.3. Measures not Linked to either the Ellis
or Beck Model
Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (FNE). The 30-
item, true-false, FNE [87] was developed to determine
the degree to which individuals experience apprehension
due to the possibility of being unfavorably evaluated.
Performance on the FNE has been shown to be corre-
lated significantly with measures of anxiety and depres-
sion [88]. A Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation or BFNE
[89] changed the response format to a 5-point scale and
reduced the measure to 12 items. Results from a revised
version of the BFNE suggested that the different factor
structures reported in the literature may reflect related
but distinct constructs, and that more research is needed
on its factor structure [90].
Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ). The PSWQ
[91] is a 16-item inventory, based on a 5-point Likert
scale, assesses the frequency of pathological worry. The
PSWQ possesses high internal consistency and good
test-retest reliability, and was found to significantly dis-
criminate samples who met the diagnostic criteria for
generalized anxiety disorder. Cognitive therapy pro-
duced reductions in PSWQ scores. Lim, Kim, Lee, and
Kwon [92] observed that, as with the BFNE above, there
is still some debate regarding the factor structure of the
3.4. Discussion and Recommendations
Inasmuch as irrational beliefs play a central role in cog-
nitive theory and therapy, they are a major focus in
treatment and, consequently, are a primary intervention
target. As noted by Beck et al. [85], these irrational be-
liefs, if they are correctly identified, are a key conceptual
theme linking an individual’s dysfunctional responses to
the present situation. With the continued proliferation of
irrational beliefs measures, we feel that it is essential that
investigators continue to assess and reassess the psy-
chometric properties of these tests and to determine if
there is indeed a need for additional tests which appear
to be measuring the same concept. This reassessment is
all the more critical given the role of irrational thinking,
as measured by traditional and newer context specific
measures, in behaviors and cognitions which while pro-
blematic, are not always considered to be pathological:
gambling [93], obesity [94], postpartum depression [95],
health practices [96], procrastination [97], exam-related
distress [98], and even belief in the paranormal [99].
However, we did not include these measures in this re-
view as we limited it to measures related only to depres-
sion and anxiety.
Several problems in the evaluation of extant tests of
irrational beliefs became apparent during the course of
conducting this review. The authors of the tests were
frequently the sole source of reliability and validity evi-
dence which varied considerably among published work.
This makes it difficult to reach objective conclusions
about the tests. Additionally, investigators incorporating
these measures in their research are inconsistent in nam-
ing and describing the development of the tests, which
causes unnecessary confusion for investigators attempt-
ing to replicate the original research.
Unfortunately, it appears many of the early measures
whose psychometric properties are in doubt are still used
today; the Irrational Beliefs Test [14], the Rational Be-
havior Inventory [19], and the Idea Inventory [25] still
see occasional use in research and appear in the litera-
ture. These tests contained many items that in fact did
not measure beliefs; only 63% of the items in the IBT
actually measured beliefs and only 57% of items in the
RBI measured beliefs [100]. This raises an important
point regarding the psychometric properties of measures
of irrational beliefs: Such measures should assess beliefs
both irrational and rationaland not emotional or
behavioral responses.
Newer assessment measures have since evolved out of
the theories of Ellis and Beck. Such measures include
the Perfectionism Cognitions Inventory [65], the Smith
Irrational Beliefs Inventory [68], the Ellis Emotional
Efficiency Inventory [59], the Evaluative Beliefs Scale
[3], and the Irrational Beliefs Inventory [22]. Although
some of the newer tests are not used in research or cited
in the literature as frequently, they should be used be-
cause they possess better psychometric properties com-
pared to the earlier, more frequently used, scales.
Some of the most commonly used irrational beliefs
tests still contain items that measure emotions and be-
haviors rather than beliefs. These tests are used based on
popularity and convenience even though newly devel-
oped tests may have higher validity. Thus, our recom-
mendation for clinicians and researchers interested in
assessing irrational beliefs are to use the newer and more
specialized measures of irrationality. These newer meas-
ures should not be overshadowed by more commonly
used tests which have less sound psychometric qualities.
Finally, the theories of Ellis and Beck have been applied
more recently to specific problems involving irrational
thought; while these scales were not included in this
review for reasons noted earlier, we find the Academic
Rational Beliefs Scale [58], the Gambler’s Beliefs Ques-
tionnaire [93], and the Irrational Food Beliefs Scale [94]
to possess excellent psychometric properties and should
be more widely used when assessing context specific
problems involving irrational beliefs.
There are promising new developments in the assess-
ment of irrational beliefs, as well as challenges. Many
popular assessment tools do not have the best psycho-
K. R. Bridges et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010) 862-877
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metric support yet continue to be used because of con-
venience and commonality. Newer, more narrowly fo-
cused measures are being developed which appear to
possess better psychometric properties (e.g., the Perfec-
tionism Cognitions Inventory). Whatever the future
holds for measurement of irrational beliefs, the contin-
ued improvement of these tests is essential to the study
and treatment of depression, anxiety, and other disorders.
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