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The Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS) is a widely used measure of impulsivity |impulsiveness. It includes 30 items that are scored to yield six first-order factors (attention, motor, self-control, cognitive complexity, perseverance, and cognitive instability impulsiveness) and three second-order factors (attentional, motor, and non-planning impulsiveness).[1]

The BIS is the most widely used self-report measure of impulsive personality traits.[2] As of June 2008, Web of Knowledge (an academic citation indexing and search service) tallied 457 journal citations of the 1995 article which defined the factor structure of the 11th version of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale. Although initially developed in the United States,[1] the BIS-11 has been applied widely around the world, including Australia,[3] Belgium,[4] Brazil,[5] Canada,[6] China,[7] Estonia,[8] France,[9] Germany,[10] Greece,[11] Israel,[12] Italy,[13] Japan,[14] Korea,[15] Netherlands,[16] Scotland,[17] Spain,[18] Switzerland,[19]Taiwan,[20] Turkey,[21] and the United Kingdom.[22]

The first version of the scale, the BIS-1, was released in 1959.

History Edit

It was first developed in 1959 and was based on a unidimensional model of impulsiveness which included it as a part of a larger groups of personality pre-dispositions such as extraversion, sensation seeking, and a lack of inhibitory behavioural controls.

Further research lead Barratt to classify impulsivity in three main aspects: motor (acting without thinking), cognitive (quick decisions), and non-planning (present orientation). The second version, the BIS-11, was released in 1995.[1]

It has been revised extensively to achieve two major goals: (1) to identify a set of "impulsiveness" items that was orthogonal to a set of "anxiety" items as measured by the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale (MAS) or the Cattelll Anxiety Scale, and (2) to define impulsiveness within the structure of related personality traits like Eysenck's Extraversion dimension or Zuckerman's Sensation-Seeking dimension, especially the disinhibition subfactor.[23] The BIS-11 with 30 items was developed in 1995.[24] According to Patton and colleagues, there are 3 subscales (Attentional Impulsiveness, Motor Impulsiveness, and Non-Planning Impulsiveness) with six factors:[24]

  1. Attention: "focusing on a task at hand".
  2. Motor impulsiveness: "acting on the spur of the moment".
  3. Self-control: "planning and thinking carefully".
  4. Cognitive complexity: "enjoying challenging mental tasks".
  5. Perseverance: "a consistent life style".
  6. Cognitive instability: "thought insertion and racing thoughts".


1959 BIS-1

1995 BIS-11


The BIS-11 is a 30-item self-report questionnaire, that is scored to yield a total score, three second-order factors, and six first-order factors. The questions are published in the 1995 references article. The following is a list of the items contributing to each factor score.[2]

Second-order Factors Item Content
Attentional: 6, 5, 9*, 11, 20*, 24, 26, 28
Motor: 2, 3, 4, 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 23, 25, 30*
Nonplanning: 1*, 7*, 8*, 10*, 12*, 13*, 14, 15*, 18, 27, 29*
First-order Factors Item Content
Attention: 5, 9*, 11, 20*, 28
Motor: 2, 3, 4, 17, 19, 22, 25
Self-Control: 1*, 7*, 8*, 12*, 13*, 14
Cognitive Complexity: 10*, 15*, 18, 27, 29*
Perseverance: 16, 21, 23, 30*
Cognitive Instability: 6, 24, 26

Validity Edit

Patton et al. (1995) report internal consistency coefficients for the BIS-11 total score that range from 0.79 to 0.83 for separate populations of under-graduates, substance-abuse patients, general psychiatric patients, and prison inmates.

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 (November 1995). Factor structure of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale. Journal of Clinical Psychology 51 (6): 768–74.
  2. 2.0 2.1 BIS 11. International Society for Research on Impulsivity website. URL accessed on 2013-09-17.
  3. Gomez, R. (August 2000). Susceptibility to positive and negative mood states: Test of Eysenck’s, Gray’s and Newman’s theories. Personality and Individual Differences 29 (2): 351–65.
  4. Dom, G. (February 2006). Differences in impulsivity and sensation seeking between early-and late-onset alcoholics. Addictive behaviors 31 (2): 298–308.
  5. Martins, S.S. (August 2004). Pathological gambling, gender, and risk-taking behaviors. Addictive behaviors 29 (6): 1231–5.
  6. (August 2001). Self-destructiveness and serotonin function in bulimia nervosa. Psychiatry Research 103 (1): 15–26.
  7. (June 2007). An examination of the psychometric properties of the Chinese version of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, 11th version in a sample of Chinese adolescents. Perceptual and Motor Skills 104 (3c): 1169–82.
  8. Paaver, M. (November 2007). Platelet MAO activity and the 5-HTT gene promoter polymorphism are associated with impulsivity and cognitive style in visual information processing. Psychopharmacology 194 (4): 545–54.
  9. Lejoyeux, M. (November 1998). Impulse-control disorders in alcoholics are related to sensation seeking and not to impulsivity. Psychiatry Research 81 (2): 149–55.
  10. Cima, M. (2003). Characteristics of psychiatric prison inmates who claim amnesia. Personality and Individual Differences 35 (2): 373–80.
  11. Giotakos, O. (2003). Aggression, impulsivity, plasma sex hormones, and biogenic amine turnover in a forensic population of rapists. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 29 (3): 215–25.
  12. Glicksohn, J. (January 2006). Impulsivity and time estimation: Casting a net to catch a fish. Personality and Individual Differences 40 (2): 261-71.
  13. Fossati, A. (June 2001). Psychometric properties of an Italian version of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale‐11 (BIS‐11) in nonclinical subjects. Journal of Clinical Psychology 57 (6): 815-28.
  14. Someya, T. (April 2001). The Japanese version of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, 11th version (BIS‐11): Its reliability and validity. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 55 (2): 111-4.
  15. Hong, S. (December 2004). Segmentation of early casino markets: An exploratory study. Tourism Management 25: 801-5.
  16. Bekker, M.H.J. (December 2004). Effects of negative mood induction and impulsivity on self‐perceived emotional eating.. International Journal of Eating Disorders 36 (4): 461-9.
  17. Cairns, J. (June 2004). Repeated follow-up as a method for reducing non-trading behaviour in discrete choice experiments. Social Science & Medicine 58 (11): 2211-18.
  18. Baca-Garcia, E. (April 2004). Lack of association between the serotonin transporter promoter gene polymorphism and impulsivity or aggressive behavior among suicide attempters and healthy volunteers. Psychiatry Research 126 (2): 99-106.
  19. Billieux, J. (April 2008). Are all facets of impulsivity related to self-reported compulsive buying behavior?. Personality and Individual Differences 44 (6): 1432-42.
  20. Ray Li, C.S. (2005). Attentional blink in adolescents with varying levels of impulsivity. Journal of Psychiatric Research 39 (2): 197-205.
  21. Güleç, H. (2008). Psychometric properties of the Turkish version of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11. Klinik Psikofarmakoloji Bülteni (Bulletin of Clinical Psychopharmacology) 18 (4): 251-8.
  22. Cleare, A.J. (March 2000). Ipsapirone challenge in aggressive men shows an inverse correlation between 5-HT1A receptor function and aggression. Psychopharmacology 148 (4): 344-9.
  23. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Barratt_1959
  24. 24.0 24.1 (1995). Factor structure of the barratt impulsiveness scale. Journal of Clinical Psychology 51 (6): 768–74.

Further readingEdit

  • Barratt, E. S., & Patton, J. H. (1983). Impulsivity: Cognitive, behavioral, and psychophysiological correlates. In M. Zuckerman (Ed.), Biological bases of sensation seeking, impulsivity, and anxiety. (pp. 77-122). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

External linksEdit

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