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The Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS) is one of the oldest and most widely used measures of impulsive personality traits.


The Barratt Impulsiveness Scale is the most widely used self-report measure of impulsive personality traits. As of June 2008, ISI Web of Knowledge [1] 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 of America,[2] the BIS-11 has been applied widely around the world, including citations from 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 United Kingdom [22]. The BIS-11 includes 30 items which may be scored to yield six first-order (attention, motor, self-control, cognitive complexity, perseverance, and cognitive instability impulsiveness) and three second-order factors (attentional, motor, and non-planning impulsiveness.

Time line:

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.

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

Items are scored 1, 2, 3, or 4 and summed within factor

  • indicates reversed items, which are scored 4, 3, 2, 1


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.


  2. Patton JM, Stanford MS, and Barratt ES (1995). Factor Structure of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 51, 768-774.
  3. Gomez R, Cooper A, Gomez A (2000). Susceptibility to positive and negative mood states" Test of Eysenck's, Gray's, and Newman's theories. Personality and Individual Differences, 29, 351-365.
  4. Dom G, Hulstijn W, Sabbe B (2006). Differences in impulsivity and sensation seeking between early- and late-onset alcoholics. Addict Behaviors, 31, 298-308.
  5. Martins SS, Tavares H, da Silva Lobo DS, Galetti AM, Gentil V Pathological gambling, gender, and risk-taking behaviors. Addict Behaviors, 29, 1231-1235.
  6. Steiger H, Koerner N, Engelberg MJ, Israël M, Ng Ying Kin NM, Young SN (2001). Self-destructiveness and serotonin function in bulimia nervosa. Psychiatry Research, 103, 15-26.
  7. Yao S, Yang H, Zhu X, Auerbach RP, Abela JR, Pulleyblank RW, Tong X (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, 1169-1182.
  8. Paaver M, Nordquist N, Parik J, Harro M, Oreland L, Harro J (2007). Platelet MAO activity and the 5-HTT gene promoter polymorphism are associated with impulsivity and cognitive style in visual information processing. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 194, 545-554.
  9. Lejoyeux M, Feuché N, Loi S, Solomon J, Adè J (1998). Impulse-control disorders in alcoholics are related to sensation saking and not to impulsivity. Psychiatry Research, 81, 149-155.
  10. Cima M, Merckelbach H, Hallnack S, Knauer E (2003). Characteristics of psychiatric prison inmates who claim amnesia. Personality and Individual Differences, 35, 373-380.
  11. Giotakos O, Markianos M, Vaidakis N, Christodoulou GN (2003). Aggression, impulsivity, plasma sex hormones, and biogenic amine turnover in a forensic population of rapists. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 29, 215-225.
  12. Glicksohn J, Leshem R, Aharoni R (2006). Impulsivity and time estimation: Casting a net to catch a fish. Personality and Individual Differences, 40, 261-271.
  13. Fossati A, Di Ceglie A, Acquarini E, Barratt ES (2001). Psychometric properties of an Italian version of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11 (BIS-11) in nonclinical subjects. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57, 815-828.
  14. Someya T, Sakado K, Seki T, Kojima M, Reist C, Tang SW, Takahashi S (2001). The Japanese version of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, 11th version (BIS-11): its reliability and validity. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 55, 111-114.
  15. Hong S-K, Jang H (2004). Segmentation of early casino markets: an exploratory study. Tourism Management, 25, 801-805.
  16. Bekker MH, van de Meerendonk C, Mollerus J (2004). Effects of negative mood induction and impulsivity on self-perceived emotional eating. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 36, 461-469.
  17. Cairns J, van der Pol M (2004). Repeated follow-up as a method for reducing non-trading behavior in discrete choice experiments. Social Science & Medicine, 58, 2211-2218.
  18. Baca-Garcia E, Vaquero C, Diaz-Sastre C, García-Resa E, Saiz-Ruiz J, Fernández-Piqueras J, de Leon J (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, 99-106.
  19. Billieux J, Rochat L, Rebetez MML, Van der Linden M (2008). Are all facets of impulsivity related to self-reported compulsive buying behavior? Personality and Individual Differences, 44, 1432-1442.
  20. Ray Li CS, Chen SH, Lin WH, Yang YY (2005). Attentional blink in adolescents with varying levels of impulsivity. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 39, 197-205.
  21. Gulec H, Tamam L, Gulec MY, Turhan M, Karakus G, Zengin M, Stanford M (2008).Psychometric Properties of the Turkish Version of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11. Klinik Psikofarmakoloji Bulteni - Bulletin of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 18, 251-258. [1]
  22. Cleare AJ, Bond AJ (2000). Ipsapirone challenge in aggressive men shows an inverse correlation between 5-HT1a receptor function and aggression. Psychopharmacology, 148, 344-349.

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