The Trait Dominance-submissiveness Scale was developed originally by considering numerous characteristics related to generalized feelings of dominance versus submissiveness (Mehrabian & Hines, 1978). The Trait Dominance-submissiveness Scale currently in use (Mehrabian, 1994a) was developed within Mehrabian's (1987, 1991, 1995a, 1996) PAD Temperament Model which requires that Trait Dominance-submissiveness be reasonably independent of Trait Pleasure-displeasure and of Trait Arousability. This is a theoretically important feature of the present scale and helps distinguish it from others that confound the measurement of Trait Dominance with pleasant- unpleasant and/or arousable-unarousable characteristics. For instance, measures of Extroversion typically confound dominant and pleasant temperament characteristics, whereas measures of aggressiveness confound dominant, unpleasant, and arousable characteristics. The present version of the Trait Dominance- submissiveness Scale contains 26 items and subjects report the degree of their agreement or disagreement with each item using a 9-point agreement-disagreement scale.

The Trait Dominance-submissiveness Scale is intended primarily for experimental use. In the event it is used in clinical or applied settings, it is strongly advisable that findings based on the present instrument be checked against additional data from alternative tests and interview materials.

  • Administration: does not require tester to be present; can be used with individuals or groups
  • Test format: questionnaire, 26 items
  • Appropriate population: English fluency, ages 15 and older
  • Time required for administration: approximately 10 minutes
  • Scoring: hand scoring yields a single total-scale score; software supplies percentile & z-scores as well
  • Manual: contains complete scale, scoring directions, norms
  • Background literature: includes articles on the general PAD Temperament Model (Mehrabian, 1991, 1995a; Mehrabian & O'Reilly, 1980)

Scale ValidityEdit

Mehrabian's (1996) review article on the PAD Temperament Scales supplies considerable validity data on the Trait Dominance Scale. Validity on the Trait Dominance Scale is also available indirectly through its correlation of -.73 with the Sensitivity to Rejection Scale (Mehrabian, 1970). The Sensitivity to Rejection Scale (MSR) is a measure of generalized social submissiveness (i.e, the converse of social dominance). Its strong negative relationship with the Trait Dominance Scale is, therefore, understandable. Mehrabian (1994b) reviewed experimental evidence on the Sensitivity to Rejection Scale (MSR) and the findings can be summarized as follows:

Persons with higher Sensitivity to Rejection scores, compared with those with lower scores, are more likely to

  • be generally more submissive rather than dominant,
  • be less assertive,
  • be rated as less competent, less confident, less influential, and less leader-like by others in group situations,
  • do less well in competition, as in sports,
  • avoid self-disclosures and feel less socially able and skillful in social interactions,
  • assume posturally tense positions (i.e., submissive postures), and feel more anxious and less self-confident in dealing with others in stressful situation.

The -.73 correlation between the MSR and the Trait Dominance Scale suggests a similar, though inverted set of relationships for Trait Dominance. For example, it can be inferred that persons with high Trait Dominance scores, compared with those with lower scores, are more likely to (c) be rated as more competent, more confident, more influential, and more leader- like by others in group situations, (d) do better in competition, as in sports, and so forth.

Construct validity for the Trait Dominance Scale is available also from Mehrabian and O'Reilly (1980) who found that the Trait Dominance Scale (TDS) correlated positively with measures of Extroversion, Exhibition, Affiliation, Nurturance, Play, Impulsivity, Understanding, Arousal Seeking, Sentience, Change, Achieving Tendency, Endurance, Autonomy, and Aggression. They also found that the Trait Dominance Scale correlated negatively with measures of Neuroticism, Trait Anxiety, Harmavoidance, Succorance (or Dependency), and Sensitivity to Rejection.

Additional data were reported by Mehrabian and Stefl (1995) showing that the Trait Dominance Scale correlated negatively with measures of Shyness, Loneliness, and Conformity. Finally, the TDS was found to be a negative correlate of measures of depression (Mehrabian, 1995b; Mehrabian & Bernath, 1991).


Mehrabian, A. (1970). The development and validation of measures of affiliative tendency and sensitivity to rejection. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 30, 417- 428.

Mehrabian, A. (1987). Eating characteristics and temperament: General measures and interrelationships. Springer-Verlag, New York.

Mehrabian, A. (1991). Outline of a general emotion-based theory of temperament. In J. Strelau and A. Angleitner (Eds.), Explorations in temperament: International perspectives on theory and measurement (pp. 75-86). Plenum Press, New York.

Mehrabian, A. (1994a). Manual for the revised Trait Dominance-submissiveness Scale (TDS). (Available from Albert Mehrabian, 1130 Alta Mesa Road, Monterey, CA, USA 93940).

Mehrabian, A. (1994b). Evidence bearing on the Affiliative Tendency (MAFF) and Sensitivity to Rejection (MSR) scales. Current Psychology, 13, 97-116.

Mehrabian, A. (1995a). Relationships among three general approaches to personality description. Journal of Psychology, 129, 565-581.

Mehrabian, A. (1995b). Distinguishing depression and trait anxiety in terms of basic dimensions of temperament. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 15, 133-144.

Mehrabian, A. (1996). Pleasure-arousal-dominance: A general framework for describing and measuring individual differences in temperament. Current Psychology, 14, pp. 261-292.

Mehrabian, A., & Bernath, M.S. (1991). Factorial composition of commonly used self-report depression inventories: Relationships with basic dimensions of temperament. Journal of Research in Personality, 25, 262-275.

Mehrabian, A., & Hines, M. (1978). A questionnaire measure of individual differences in dominance-submissiveness. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 38, 479-484.

Mehrabian, A., & O'Reilly, E. (1980). Analysis of personality measures in terms of basic dimensions of temperament. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 492-503.

Mehrabian, A., & Stefl, C.A. (1995). Basic temperament components of loneliness, shyness, and conformity. Social Behavior and Personality, 23, 253-264.

See alsoEdit

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.