The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory: Shadows and Lights on its Construct Validity

  • Michela Balsamo
  • Roberta Romanelli
  • Marco Innamorati
  • Gabriele Ciccarese
  • Leonardo Carlucci
  • Aristide Saggino


Past studies on the factor validity of the Trait subscale of the Spielberger’s State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-T) do unanimously agree on its structure. In fact, researchers are still debating whether the STAI-T is unidimensional or multidimensional. Our aim was to clarify what the STAI-T measures. The STAI-T, the Beck Depression Inventory–II, the Teate Depression Inventory, and the Beck Anxiety Inventory were administered to 1124 psychiatric outpatients and to 877 healthy subjects. A confirmatory factor analysis was performed in order to compare various models in the literature. The internal consistency and convergent and discriminant validity of the STAI-T as well as its factorial subscales were assessed. The one-construct two-method (i.e., the STAI-T measures one substantive anxiety construct plus artifacts due to negative–positive item polarity) and the bifactor (i.e., the STAI-T comprises two first-order specific factors [“Anxiety” and “Depression”] and one first-order general factor) models were the best-fitting solutions for the STAI–T in both the clinical and nonclinical samples. The STAI–T total score correlated more strongly with measures of depression than with a concurrent measure of anxiety. The STAI-T should be considered a measure of general negative affect, including specific aspects of cognitive anxiety and depression together.


Confirmatory factor analysis Psychological tests Anxiety Depression Reliability and validity 


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  2. Andrich, D. (1995). Models for measurement, precision, and the nondichotomization of graded responses. Psychometrika, 60, 7–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Antony, M. M., & Barlow, D. H. (2010). Handbook of assessment and treatment planning for psychological disorders (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  4. Antony, M. M., & Rowa, K. (2005). Evidence-based assessment of anxiety disorders in adults. Psychological Assessment, 17(3), 256–266. doi:10.1037/1040-3590.17.3.256.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bados, A., Gomez-Benito, J., & Balaguer, G. (2010). The state-trait anxiety inventory, trait version: does it really measure anxiety? Journal of Personality Assessment, 92(6), 560–567. doi:10.1080/00223891.2010.513295.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Balsamo, M. (2006). Costruzione di un nuovo strumento self-report di depressione. [Construction of a new Italian depression self-report instrument]. Ph.D. thesis, Università “G. D’Annunzio” di Chieti-Pescara, Chieti.Google Scholar
  7. Balsamo, M., & Saggino, A. (2007). Test per l’assessment della depressione nel contesto italiano: un’analisi critica. [Tests for the assessment of depression in Italian Context: a critical review]. Psicoterapia Cognitiva e Comportamentale, 13, 167–199.Google Scholar
  8. Balsamo, M., & Saggino, A. (in press). TDI- Teate Depression Inventory- Manuale [TDI- Teate Depression Inventory-Manual]. Bern: Hoegrefe.Google Scholar
  9. Barnette, J. J. (2000). Effects of stem and Likert response option reversals on survey international consistency: if you feel the need, there is a better alternative to using those negatively worded stems. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 60, 361–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bartz, A. E. (1999). Basic statistical concepts (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Merrill.Google Scholar
  11. Beck, A. T. (1967). Depression: clinical, experimental, and theoretical aspects. New York: Hoeber.Google Scholar
  12. Beck, A. T., & Steer, R. A. (1993). Manual for the beck anxiety inventory. San Antonio: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  13. Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., & Brown, G. K. (1996). Manual for the beck depression inventory-II. San Antonio: Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  14. Benson, J., & Hocevar, D. (1985). The impact of item phrasing on the validity of attitude scales for elementary school children. Journal of Educational Measurement, 22, 231–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bernstein, I. H., & Eveland, D. C. (1982). State vs. trait anxiety: a case study in confirmatory factor analysis. Personality and Individual Differences, 3, 361–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bieling, P. J., Antony, M. M., & Swinson, R. P. (1998). The state-trait anxiety inventory, trait version: structure and content re-examined. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 36(7–8), 777–788.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Brown, T. A., Campbell, L. A., Lehman, C. L., Grisham, J. R., & Mancill, R. B. (2001). Current and lifetime comorbidity of the DSM-IV anxiety and mood disorders in a large clinical sample. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 110(4), 585–599.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Browne, M. W., & Cudek, R. (1993). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. In J. S. Long (Ed.), Testing structural equation models (pp. 136–162). Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  19. Bufka, L. F., Crawford, J. I., & Levitt, J. T. (2002). Brief screening assessments for managed care and primary care. In M. M. Antony & D. H. Barlow (Eds.), Handbook of assessment and treatment planning for psychological disorders (pp. 38–66). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  20. Caci, H., Bayle, F. J., Dossios, C., Robert, P., & Boyer, P. (2003). The Spielberger trait anxiety inventory measures more than anxiety. European Psychiatry, 18(8), 394–400.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Campbell, D. T., & Fiske, D. W. (1959). Convergent and discriminant validation by the multitrait-multimethod matrix. Psychological Bulletin, 56(2), 81–105.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cattell, R. B., & Scheier, I. H. (1961). The meaning and measurement of neuroticism and anxiety. New York: Ronald.Google Scholar
  23. Chen, F. F., West, S. G., & Sousa, K. H. (2006). A comparison of bifactor and second-order models of quality of life. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 41, 189–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Clark, L. A., & Watson, D. (1991). Tripartite model of anxiety and depression: psychometric evidence and taxonomic implications. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100(3), 316–336.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  26. Cronbach, L. J., & Meehl, P. E. (1955). Construct validity in psychological tests. Psychological Bulletin, 52, 281–302.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Deyo, R. A., & Carter, W. B. (1992). Strategies for improving and expanding the application of health status measures in clinical settings. A researcher-developer viewpoint. Medical Care, 30(5 Suppl), MS176–186.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Dobson, K. S. (1985a). An analysis of anxiety and depression scales. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(5), 522–527. doi:10.1207/s15327752jpa4905_10.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Dobson, K. S. (1985b). The relationship between anxiety and depression. Clinical Psychology Review, 5, 307–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Dozois, D. J. A., & Dobson, K. S. (2002). Depression. In M. M. Antony & D. H. Barlow (Eds.), Handbook of assessment and treatment planning for psychological disorders (pp. 259–299). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  31. Eid, M., Lischetzke, T., & Nussbeck, F. W. (2006). Structural equation models for multitrait-multimethod data. In M. Eid & E. Diener (Eds.), Handbook of multimethod measurement in psychology (1st ed., pp. 283–299). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Endler, N. S., & Kocovski, N. L. (2001). State and trait anxiety revisited. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 15(3), 231–245.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Eysenck, H. J., & Eysenck, S. B. G. (1982). Culture and personality abnormalities. In I. Al-Issa (Ed.), Culture and psychopathology (pp. 277–389). Baltimore: University Park Press.Google Scholar
  34. First, M. B. (2011). DSM-5 proposals for mood disorders: a cost-benefit analysis. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 24(1), 1–9. doi:10.1097/YCO.0b013e328340b594.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. First, M. B., Spitzer, R. L., Gibbon, M., & Williams, J. B. W. (1996). Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders, Clinician Version (SCID-CV). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.Google Scholar
  36. First, M. B., Spitzer, R. L., Gibbon, M., & Williams, J. B. W. (2002). Structured clinical interview for DSM-IV-TR axis I disorders, research version, patient edition, SCID-I/P. New York: Biometrics Research, New York State Psychiatric Institute.Google Scholar
  37. Gaudry, E. G., Vagg, P., & Spielberger, C. D. (1975). Validation of the state-trait distinction in anxiety research. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 10, 331–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Gauthier, J., & Bouchard, S. (1993). Adaptation canadienne-française de la forme révisée du State–Trait Anxiety Inventory de Spielberger. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 25, 559–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Gotlib, I. H. (1984). Depression and general psychopathology in university students. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 93(1), 19–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Gros, D. F., Antony, M. M., Simms, L. J., & McCabe, R. E. (2007). Psychometric properties of the State-Trait Inventory for Cognitive and Somatic Anxiety (STICSA): comparison to the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). Psychological Assessment, 19(4), 369–381. doi:10.1037/1040-3590.19.4.369.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hathaway, S. R., & McKinley, J. C. (1989). MMPI-2: Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2: Manual for administration and scoring. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  42. Hishinuma, E. S., Miyamoto, R. H., Nishimura, S. T., Nahulu, L. B., Andrade, N. N., Makini, G. K., Jr., & Guerrero, A. P. (2000). Psychometric properties of the state-trait anxiety inventory for Asian/Pacific-islander adolescents. Assessment, 7(1), 17–36.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Hodapp, V., & Benson, J. (1997). The multidimensionality of test anxiety: a test of different models. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 10(3), 219–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Holtzman, W. H. (1976). Critique of research on anxiety across cultures. In C. D. Spielberger, R. Díaz Guerrero, & J. Strelau (Eds.), Cross-cultural anxiety (pp. 175–187). Washington, DC: Hemisphere Pub. Co.Google Scholar
  45. Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1998). Fit indices in covariance structure modeling: sensitivity to underparameterized model misspecification. Psychological Methods, 3, 424–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: a Multidisciplinary Journal, 6, 1–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Innamorati, M., Lelli, M., Aiello, S., Di Lorenzo del Casale, F. L., Russo, S., & V., F. (2006). Validazione convergente e discriminante della versione italiana della Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale. [Convergent and discriminant validation of the Italian version of the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale]. Psicoterapia Cognitiva e Comportamentale, 12, 343–353.Google Scholar
  48. Jöreskog, K. G., & Sörbom, D. (2006). LISREL for Windows [Computer software]. Lincolnwood: Scientific Software International, Inc.Google Scholar
  49. Kahn, J. H. (2006). Factor analysis in counseling psychology research, training, and practice: principles, advances, and applications. The Counseling Psychologist, 34, 684–718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Keedwell, P., & Snaith, R. P. (1996). What do anxiety scales measure? Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 93(3), 177–180.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kennedy, B. L., Schwab, J. J., Morris, R. L., & Beldia, G. (2001). Assessment of state and trait anxiety in subjects with anxiety and depressive disorders. The Psychiatric Quarterly, 72(3), 263–276.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kline, R. B. (2011). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  53. Kohn, P. M., Kantor, L., DeCicco, T. L., & Beck, A. T. (2008). The Beck Anxiety Inventory-Trait (BAIT): a measure of dispositional anxiety not contaminated by dispositional depression. Journal of Personality Assessment, 90(5), 499–506. doi:10.1080/00223890802248844.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Koksal, F., & Power, K. G. (1990). Four Systems Anxiety Questionnaire (FSAQ): a self-report measure of somatic, cognitive, behavioral, and feeling components. Journal of Personality Assessment, 54(3–4), 534–545. doi:10.1080/00223891.1990.9674018.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Köksal, F., Power, K., & Sharp, D. (1991). Profiles of DSM III anxiety disorders on the somatic, cognitive, behavioural and feeling components of the four systems anxiety questionnaire. Personality and Individual Differences, 12, 643–651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Lovibond, P. F., & Lovibond, S. H. (1995). Manual for the depression anxiety stress scales. Sidney: Psychology Foundation of Australia.Google Scholar
  57. Marsh, H. W. (1996). Positive and negative global self-esteem: a substantively meaningful distinction or artifactors? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(4), 810–819.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Meng, X. L., Rosenthal, R., & Rubin, D. B. (1992). Comparing correlated correlation coefficients. Psychological Bulletin, 111(1), 172–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Miller, T. R., & Clearly, T. A. (1993). Direction of wording effects in balanced scales. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 53, 51–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Motl, R. W., Conroy, D. E., & Horan, P. M. (2000). The Social Physique Anxiety Scale: an example of the potential consequence of negatively worded items in factorial validity studies. Journal of Applied Measurement, 1(4), 327–345.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Nezu, A. M., Nezu, C. M., McClure, K. S., & Zwick, M. L. (2002). Assessment of depression. In I. H. Gotlib & C. L. Hammen (Eds.), Handbook of depression (pp. 61–85). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  62. Olino, T. M., Klein, D. N., Lewinsohn, P. M., Rohde, P., & Seeley, J. R. (2008). Longitudinal associations between depressive and anxiety disorders: a comparison of two trait models. Psychological Medicine, 38(3), 353–363. doi:10.1017/S0033291707001341.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Pilotte, W. J., & Gable, R. K. (1990). The impact of positive and negative item stems on the validity of a computer anxiety scale. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 50, 603–619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Rasch, G. (1980). Probabilistic models for some intelligence and attainment tests (Expandedth ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  65. Ree, M. J., French, D. J., Macleod, C., & Locke, V. M. (2008). Distinguishing Cognitive and Somatic Dimensions of State and Trait Anxiety: Development and Validation of the State-Trait Inventory for Cognitive and Somatic Anxiety (STICSA). Behavioural and Cognitive Psychoterapy, 36(3), 313–332.Google Scholar
  66. Schermelleh-Engel, K., Moosbrugger, H., & Müller, H. (2003). Evaluating the fit of structural equation models: test of significance and descriptive goodness-of-fit measures. Methods of Psychological Research Online, 8(2), 23–74.Google Scholar
  67. Scholing, A., & Emmelkamp, P. M. (1992). Self report assessment of anxiety: a cross validation of the Lehrer Woolfolk Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire in three populations. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 30(5), 521–531.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Schriesheim, C. A., Eisenback, R. J., & Hill, K. D. (1991). The effect of negation and polar opposite item reversals on questionnaire reliability and validity: an experimental investigation. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 51, 67–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Schwartz, G. E., Davidson, R. J., & Goleman, D. J. (1978). Patterning of cognitive and somatic processes in the self-regulation of anxiety: effects of meditation versus exercise. Psychosomatic Medicine, 40(4), 321–328.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. Shedletsky, R., & Endler, N. S. (1974). Anxiety: the state-trait model and the interaction model. Journal of Personality, 42(4), 511–527.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Shek, D. T. (1988). Reliability and factorial structure of the Chinese version of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 10, 303–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Smith, G. T. (2005). On construct validity: issues of method and measurement. Psychological Assessment, 17(4), 396–408.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Snaith, P. (1993). What do depression rating scales measure? The British Journal of Psychiatry, 163, 293–298.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Spielberger, C. D., & Sydeman, S. (1994). State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory. In M. E. Maruish (Ed.), The use of psychological testing for treatment planning and outcomes. Hillsdale: Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  75. Spielberger, C. D., Gorsuch, R. L., & Lushene, R. E. (1970). STAI: Manual for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  76. Spielberger, C. D., Vagg, P. R., Barker, L. R., Donham, G. W., & Westberry, L. G. (1980). Factor structure of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. In I. G. Sarason & C. D. Spielberger (Eds.), Stress and anxiety (Vol. 7, pp. 95–109). Washington, DC: Hemisphere.Google Scholar
  77. Spielberger, C. D., Gorsuch, R. L., Lushene, R. E., Vagg, P. R., & Jacobs, G. A. (1983). Manual for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory STAI (Form Y). Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  78. Suzuki, T., Tsukamoto, K., & Abe, K. (2000). Characteristics factor structures of the Japanese version of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory: coexistence of positive–negative and state-trait factor structures. Journal of Personality Assessment, 74(3), 447–458. doi:10.1207/S15327752JPA7403_8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Vagg, P. R., Spielberger, C. D., & O’Hearn, T. P., Jr. (1980). Is the state-trait anxiety inventory multidimensional? Personality and Individual Differences, 1, 207–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Vautier, S. (2004). A longitudinal SEM approach to STAI data:two comprehensive multitrait-multistate models. Journal of Personality Assessment, 83(2), 167–179. doi:10.1207/s15327752jpa8302_11.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Vautier, S., & Pohl, S. (2009). Do balanced scales assess bipolar constructs? The case of the STAI scales. Psychological Assessment, 21(2), 187–193.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Vautier, S., Raufaste, E., & Cariou, M. (2003). Dimensionality of the revised Life Orientation Test and the status of filler items. International Journal of Psychology, 38, 390–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Vautier, S., Callahan, S., Moncany, D., & Sztulman, H. (2004). A bi-stable view of single constructs measured using balanced questionnaires: application to trait anxiety. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 11, 261–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Vigneau, F., & Cormier, S. (2008). The factor structure of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory: an alternative view. Journal of Personality Assessment, 90(3), 280–285. doi:10.1080/00223890701885027.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Wells, A. (2009). Metacognitive therapy for anxiety and depression. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michela Balsamo
    • 1
  • Roberta Romanelli
    • 1
  • Marco Innamorati
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gabriele Ciccarese
    • 1
  • Leonardo Carlucci
    • 1
  • Aristide Saggino
    • 1
  1. 1.DISPUTer, Dipartimento di Scienze Psicologiche, Umanistiche e del Territorio“G. d’Annunzio” UniversityChietiItaly
  2. 2.Università Europea di RomaRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations