Assessing Safety Behaviors in Fear of Storms: Validation of the Storm-Related Safety Behavior Scale


With the exception of one self-report questionnaire assessing storm fear severity (Nelson et al. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 36(1), 105–114, 2014), there are few brief published assessment tools to measure the cognitive, behavioral, and physical manifestations of storm fear. A principal feature of phobic disorders is the use of safety behaviors to alleviate distress. Safety behaviors are believed to perpetuate anxiety by preventing the disconfirmation of feared outcomes (Salkovskis Behavioural Psychotherapy, 19(1), 6–19, 1991). To date, no studies have examined the use of safety behaviors in storm fear. The purpose of the current research was to develop and validate the Storm-Related Safety Behavior Scale (SRSBS; Vorstenbosch and Antony 2017), a 24-item self-report scale that measures safety behavior use in adults with a fear of storms. Two studies examined the (1) factor structure, internal consistency, validity, and test-retest reliability of the SRSBS, as well as the frequency with which specific safety behaviors were endorsed; and (2) ability of the SRSBS to differentiate between a group of adults with low and high fear of storms after exposure to a virtual thunderstorm. Factor analysis revealed that the SRSBS is best captured by one factor. Results provided preliminary evidence of convergent and discriminant validity, as well as test-retest reliability. Finally, significant group differences were found between participants with high versus low fear of storms following a virtual thunderstorm. These findings demonstrate the value of the SRSBS for assessing safety behavior use.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    The demographic categories of “White” and “Other” were mistakenly combined during data collection. Separate data on these two categories are not available.

  2. 2.

    Nonparametric Mann-Whitney U was used given non-normal distribution of age.

  3. 3.

    Cohen’s d was deemed invalid as Step 1 BAT anxiety rating for the low fear group = 0.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington: American Psychiatric Press.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Antony, M. M., Bieling, P. J., Cox, B. J., Enns, M. W., & Swinson, R. P. (1998). Psychometric properties of the 42-item and 21-item versions of the depression anxiety stress scales in clinical groups and a community sample. Psychological Assessment, 10(2), 176–181.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Blakey, S. M., & Abramowitz, J. S. (2016). The effects of safety behaviors during exposure therapy for anxiety: Critical analysis from an inhibitory learning perspective. Clinical Psychology Review, 49(1), 1–15.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Botella, C., Baños, R. M., Guerrero, B., García-Palacios, A., Quero, S., & Alcañíz, M. (2006). Using a flexible virtual environment for treating a storm phobia. PsychNology Journal, 4(2), 129–144.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Buhrmester, M., Kwang, T., & Gosling, S. D. (2011). Amazon’s mechanical Turk: A new source of inexpensive, yet high-quality data? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(1), 3–5.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Cattell, R. B. (1966). The scree test for the number of factors. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 1(2), 245–276.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Clara, I. P., Cox, B. J., & Enns, M. W. (2001). Confirmatory factor analysis of the depression-anxiety-stress scales in depressed and anxious patients. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 23(1), 61–67.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2. Auflage). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  9. Craske, M. G., Kircanski, K., Zelikowsky, M., Mystkowski, J., Chowdhury, N., & Baker, A. (2008). Optimizing inhibitory learning during exposure therapy. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 46(1), 5–27.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Crump, M. J. C., McDonnell, J. V., & Gureckis, T. M. (2013). Evaluating Amazon’s mechanical Turk as a tool for experimental behavioral research. PloS One, 8(3), 1–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Cuming, S., Rapee, R. M., Kemp, N., Abott, M. J., Peters, L., & Gaston, J. E. (2009). A self-report measure of subtle avoidance and safety behaviors relevant to social anxiety: Development and psychometric properties. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 23(7), 879–883.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. El-Masri, M. M., & Fox-Wasylyshyn, S. M. (2005). Missing data: An introductory conceptual overview for the novice researcher. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, 37(4), 156–171.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Field, A. (2013). Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS statistics (4th ed.). London: SAGE Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  14. First, M. B., Williams, J. B. W., Karg, R. S., & Spitzer, R. L. (2015). Structured clinical interview for DSM-5, research version 1.0.0 (SCID-5-RV). Arlington: American Psychiatric Association.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Goodman, J. K., Cryer, C. E., & Cheema, A. (2012). Data collection in a flat world: The strengths and weaknesses of mechanical Turk samples. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 26(3), 213–224.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Horton, J. J., & Chilton, L. B. (2010). The labor economics of paid crowdsourcing. (2010). Proceedings of the 11th ACM conference on Electronic commerce. 978-1-60558-822-3. doi:10.1145/1807342.1807376.

  17. Kline, P. (1999). The handbook of psychological testing (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Lovibond, P. F., & Lovibond, S. H. (1995). The structure of negative emotional states: Comparison of the depression anxiety stress scales (DASS) with the Beck depression and anxiety inventories. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 33(3), 335–343.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Matthey, S. (1988). Cognitive-behavioural treatment of a thunder-phobic child. Behaviour Change, 5(2), 80–84.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Meulders, A., Van Daele, T., Volders, S., & Vlaeyen, J. W. S. (2016). The use of safety-seeking behavior in exposure-based treatments for fear and anxiety: Benefit or burden? A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 45(1), 144–156.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Munson, M. S., Davis, T. E., Grills-Taquechel, A., & Zlomke, K. R. (2010). The effects of hurricane Katrina on females with a pre-existing fear of storms. Current Psychology, 29(4), 307–319.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Muris, P., & Merckelbach, H. (1996). A comparison of two spider fear questionnaires. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 27(3), 241–244.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Nelson, A. L., & Antony, M. M. (2013). Storm fear questionnaire. Toronto: Ryerson University.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Nelson, A. L., Vorstenbosch, V., & Antony, M. M. (2014). Assessing fear of storms and severe weather: Validation of the storm fear questionnaire (SFQ). Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 36(1), 105–114.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Oppenheimer, D., Meyvis, T., & Davidenko, N. (2009). Instructional manipulation checks: Detecting satisficing to increase statistical power. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(4), 867–872.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Paolacci, G., Chandler, J., & Ipeirotis, P. G. (2010). Running experiments on mechanical Turk. Judgment and Decision making, 5(5), 411–419.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Parent, M. C. (2013). Handling item-level missing data: Simpler is just as good. The Counseling Psychologist, 41(4), 568–600.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Pinto-Gouveia, J., Cunha, M. I., & do Céu Salvador, M. (2003). Assessment of social phobia by self-report questionnaires: The social interaction scale and the social phobia safety Behaviours scale. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 31(3), 291–311.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Salkovskis, P. M. (1991). The importance of behaviour in the maintenance of anxiety and panic: A cognitive account. Behavioural Psychotherapy, 19(1), 6–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Sinclair, S. J., Siefert, C. J., Slavin-Mulford, J., Stein, M. B., Renna, M., & Blais, M. A. (2012). Psychometric evaluation and normative data for the depression, anxiety, and stress scales-21 (DASS-21) in a nonclinical sample of U.S. adults. Evaluation & the Health Professions, 35(3), 259–279.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Stinson, F. S., Dawson, D. A., Chou, S. P., Smith, S., Goldstein, R. B., Ruan, W. J., & Grant, B. F. (2007). The epidemiology of DSM-IV specific phobia in the USA: Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on alcohol and related conditions. Psychological Medicine, 37, 1046–1059.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Szymanski, J., & O'Donohue, W. (1995). Fear of spiders questionnaire. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 26(1), 31–34.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Vorstenbosch, V., & Antony, M. M. (2017). Storm-related safety behavior scale. Toronto: Ryerson University.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Wang, A. G. (2000). Storm phobia: A North Atlantic phenomenon. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 54(1), 67–68.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Westefeld, J. S. (1996). Severe weather phobia: An exploratory study. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 52(5), 509–515.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


Thank you to Kesla Forsythe for assistance with data collection.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Martin M. Antony.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

Kirstyn L. Krause, Emma M. MacDonald, Alasdair Goodwill, Valerie Vorstenbosch and Martin M. Antony declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards and were approved by the University’s Research Ethics Board.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.



Storm-Related Safety Behavior Scale

© 2017 Valerie Vorstenbosch and Martin M. Antony. Reprinted with permission from the authors

Below is a list of behaviors that are sometimes used by people to cope with a fear of thunderstorms. Please read each item carefully and select the option that applies to you, in general.

Response options:

  • 0 = I NEVER do this to manage a fear of storms

  • 1 = I RARELY do this to manage a fear of storms

  • 2 = I SOMETIMES do this to manage a fear of storms

  • 3 = I USUALLY do this to manage a fear of storms

  • 4 = I ALWAYS do this to manage a fear of storms

During a typical thunderstorm in the past year, how much/often did you do the following to manage a fear of storms:

  1. 1.

    _______ frequently and repeatedly check weather reports to see if bad weather is expected

  2. 2.

    _______ stay indoors on days when bad weather is expected

  3. 3.

    _______ avoid being alone when bad weather is expected

  4. 4.

    _______ stay in a protected room (e.g., a basement) during a storm

  5. 5.

    _______ restrict myself to rooms without windows during a storm

  6. 6.

    _______ close the curtains during storms

  7. 7.

    _______ stay away from windows during a storm

  8. 8.

    _______ avoid driving during bad weather

  9. 9.

    _______ distract myself (e.g., by listening to music, watching television) during storms

  10. 10.

    _______ avoid talking on the telephone during a storm

  11. 11.

    _______ avoid using electronic appliances (e.g., television, computer) during a storm

  12. 12.

    _______ cancel plans when bad weather is expected

  13. 13.

    _______ leave work, school, or appointments early when bad weather is expected

  14. 14.

    _______ repeat positive statements (e.g., “I am going to be safe”) during storms

  15. 15.

    _______ ask others for reassurance that the storm is not dangerous

  16. 16.

    _______ stock up on supplies (e.g., water, food, batteries) when bad weather is expected

  17. 17.

    _______ avoid using water (e.g., showering, washing dishes) during a storm

  18. 18.

    _______ frequently call friends and family during a storm to determine their safety

  19. 19.

    _______ avoid outdoor leisure activities (e.g., camping, boating, hiking) for fear that bad weather will occur

  20. 20.

    _______ keep emergency radio on during storms

  21. 21.

    _______ avoid leaving home on days when bad weather is expected

  22. 22.

    _______ wear protective gear when I go outside during a storm

  23. 23.

    _______ watch the sky or clouds on days when the weather is bad

  24. 24.

    _______ frequently and repeatedly look out the window to check the weather conditions

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Krause, K.L., MacDonald, E.M., Goodwill, A.M. et al. Assessing Safety Behaviors in Fear of Storms: Validation of the Storm-Related Safety Behavior Scale. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 40, 139–148 (2018).

Download citation


  • Phobia
  • Storm
  • Fear
  • Safety behavior
  • Measurement
  • Factor analysis
  • Virtual reality