The Effect of Positive Items in the Assessment of Mood

Date of Graduation

Spring 2003


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

James Davis


The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), in its various forms, is the most popular instrument for the assessment of depression. Its many applications include uses in research and clinical practice. Despite widespread use of the instrument, the BDI was designed to be used only with individuals already diagnosed with depression. Use of the BDI with normal samples and individuals progressing in treatment presents a number of serious limitations, including a large floor effect. In order to address this limitation and to create an instrument useful for assessing normal samples, modifications were made to the Beck Depression Inventory-Second Edition (BDI-II). Positive response options were added to 18 of the 21 items, resulting in the Full Range Mood Evaluations (FRME). It was hypothesized that the FRME would be more sensitive than the BDI-II in assessing changes in positive mood and that there would be a greater percentage of endorsement of the new positive items. In order to test these hypotheses, 138 undergraduates were randomly assigned to one of six between-subjects conditions in this 2 (Assessment, BDI-II vs. FRME) x 3 (Writing Assignment, Best Possible Future Self (BPS) vs. Daily Activities vs. None) x 2 (Time, Week 1 vs. Week 2) design with repeated measures on the last factor. Previous studies have shown a therapeutic effect of writing about BPS. Primary analysis consisted of separate ANOVAs for the BDI-II and FRME followed by a post hoc comparision of the effect sizes of the BPS condition on BDI-II and FRME scores from T1 to T2. The FRME yielded a larger effect size than the BDI-II (r²=.32 vs. .17), although this difference was not statistically significant. Patterns of endorsement were also analyzed, as 70.0% of the new positive items on the FRME were endorsed. Secondary analyses included a comparison of reliability coefficients. Findings suggest that the FRME offers a more complete picture of changes in positive mood for normal samples than does the BDI-II.

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