Category: Anger

Symposium

Clarifying and Differentiating the Construct of Irritability: Development and Validation of the State-Trait Irritability Questionnaire Using a Cross-Cultural Sample

Saturday, November 18
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Cobalt 502, Level 5, Cobalt Level

Keywords: Anger / Irritability | Assessment | Cross Cultural / Cultural Differences
Presentation Type: Symposium

As one of the most transdiagnostic constructs, the term irritability is widely used as a symptom of psychopathology. Irritability, anger, and aggression are listed as symptoms of many disorders in the DSM-5. Nevertheless, among researchers, practitioners, and theoreticians, there is considerable confusion in distinguishing these terms (DiGiuseppe & Tafrate, 2007). Consequently, items designed to measure such constructs contain much overlap and are difficult to distinguish from one another, and implications for treatments based on assessments using these measures are less valid and effective. Thus, the current study involves the development of the State-Trait Irritability Questionnaire (STIQ), with items designed to clarify and differentiate the construct of irritability from anger and aggression. Participants were 161 men (M=41.45, SD=15.27) and 207 women (M=36.23, SD=15.16) from the USA, UK, China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa. The STIQ initially consisted of 78 questions (39 for both state and trait subscales) capturing a range of characteristics specific to irritability based on previous scholarly definitions. An exploratory factor analysis was conducted using an oblique rotation. Five factors resulted for the measurement of irritability: Causes (e.g., “I am hungry”), Mood/Experience (e.g., “I feel moderately tense (but not relaxed or extremely tense”), Sensory Sensitivity (e.g., Lights seem more irritating than usual”), Lowered Threshold (e.g., “Any little annoyance could lead to me being upset”), and Behavioral Expression/Consequences (e.g., “The mildest frustration could make me want to hit someone/something”). Based upon factor loadings, Cronbach’s alpha, and number of factors, 16 items were removed from both the state and trait scales, keeping 46 items. By encompassing the breadth and depth of the construct of irritability independent from related constructs such as anger and aggression, the STIQ provides a number of implications for the treatment of all three  constructs including whether anger and/or aggression is due to irritability and which should be addressed first.

Michael J. Toohey

Teaching Faculty
Antioch University Seattle

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Clarifying and Differentiating the Construct of Irritability: Development and Validation of the State-Trait Irritability Questionnaire Using a Cross-Cultural Sample



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