Developing a Brief Version of the Social Thoughts and Beliefs Scale (STABS) Using Item Response Theory

  • Itamar Stein
  • Maya Asher
  • Shahaf Erez
  • Tomer Shechner
  • Sofi Marom
  • Haggai Hermesh
  • Idan M. AderkaEmail author
Original Article


Cognitions play a central role in the maintenance of social anxiety disorder (SAD). The aim of the present study was to develop a brief version of the social thoughts and beliefs scale (STABS) that can be used in clinical trials and experience sampling studies in which multiple repeated measures (e.g., weekly or daily measurements) are utilized. Our sample (n = 361) included both individuals diagnosed with SAD (n = 108) and non-anxious controls (n = 253). We used item response theory analyses to examine items of the STABS and kept only items which differentiated between 4 levels of SAD-related cognitions between the 5th and 95th percentiles of scores. This strategy resulted in a brief, seven-item scale—the mini-STABS. We then compared the mini-STABS with the full-length, 21-item STABS, as well as examined convergent and divergent validity for the brief measure. Results indicated that the mini-STABS was highly correlated with the 21-item STABS, and demonstrated similar patterns of associations with convergent and divergent measures compared to the 21-item STABS. These findings suggest that the mini-STABS is a psychometrically sound brief version of the STABS that provides similar information using fewer items. Implications for assessment of SAD are discussed.


Social anxiety disorder (SAD) Cognitions Social thoughts and beliefs scale (STABS) Item response theory (IRT) 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Authors Itamar Stein, Maya Asher, Shahaf Erez, Tomer Shechner, Sofi Marom, Haggai Hermesh and Idan M. Aderka declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures performed in the present study received the approval of the University of Haifa’s IRB and are consistent with APA ethical guidelines. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.Anxiety Disorders and Behavior Therapy Unit, Outpatient DepartmentGeha Mental Health CenterPetach-TikvaIsrael

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