A shortened psychophysical task to quantify irritability: The Reactive Irritability Scale II (RIS-II)

Martha M. Faraday, Peter M. Scheufele, Kelly J.Vander Ley, Neil E. Grunberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Reactive Irritability Scale (RIS) uses magnitude estimation to measure reactive irritability. Respondents rate target sounds in comparison to a neutral reference sound. The RIS proved more sensitive than self-report measures to detect irritability associated with withdrawal from cigarette smoking and with exposure to a stressful environment, but was too long (30 min) for routine use. We report here on a shortened version (13 min)-RIS-II. The RIS-II exhibited robust test-retest reliability and correlated strongly with the original RIS (Study 1). In Study 2, the RIS-II was administered to subjects who experienced psychological stress and then were exposed to progressive relaxation, music, cognitive tasks, or silence; the Progressive Relaxation group was the most irritable. In Study 3, the RIS-II was administered to chronic pain patients. Pain patients found the sounds less irritating than did controls with the exception of the reference sound; repeated presentation of the reference sound increased irritability. These studies indicate that the RIS-II is a reliable instrument that may have utility for the measurement of irritability in laboratory and clinical settings. In addition, these studies indicate that the RIS-II is understandable by individuals of different ages who are from educationally- and culturally-diverse backgrounds and individuals who are healthy as well as individuals suffering from chronic medical conditions who are on multiple medications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-20
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Irritability stress
  • Pain psychophysical reliability
  • Reactive irritability scale RIS-II

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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