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Internalized Shame Scale

David R. Cook, Ed. D.

Technical Information

For adults, data were collected from non-clinical groups of males and females (n = 1130); from inpatient alcoholic populations (n = 319); and from a combined psychiatric sample, about half outpatient, most of whom had a diagnosis of depression or dysthymia and some with an anxiety disorder (n = 499). A high school sample (n = 200) and a clinical sample comprised of boys admitted to a residential group home setting due to pre-delinquent type behaviors (n = 41) comprise the adolescent data. Given that these adolescent sample sizes are small, more normative data is required before the clinician can be confident that a score of 50 is indicative of problematic levels of internalized shame in this younger age group. Therefore, an approach focusing on the item endorsement is useful for clients aged 13 to 18.

Reliability and Validity
This version of the ISS represents a fifth revision of the formerly unpublished research version. The manual’s coverage spans a presentation of the item selection, scale development, psychometric properties, conceptual and theoretical basis for the development of the ISS, and clinical theory and clinical applicability. The ISS has become the primary psychometric instrument for empirical research on shame and a number of completed studies by many researchers have been conducted. The items in the ISS are all derived from the phenomenology of the feelings and emotions that are widely accepted in current shame literature. The data that have been subsequently collected in the research studies have confirmed the validity of this approach to measuring shame. Reviews of early measures of shame and more recently developed shame and guilt scales are discussed in the manual to provide background information on the study of shame. Comparative data are presented to provide examples of correlations among shame and guilt measures.

The manual also provides a series of 5 diverse case studies to show the application of the ISS in a variety of situations and contexts to clarify the use of the ISS in general practice. Detailed data are also presented on:

  • The internal reliability and test-retest reliability of the ISS 
  • The convergent validity of the general construct of shame with other related constructs such as self-esteem, psychopathology, depression, suicide probability, anxiety, and anger
  • Preliminary reports demonstrating the divergent validity of ISS from sex-guilt
  • Clinical research results involving the ISS

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For more information on the ISS click here.
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David R. Cook, Ed. D.

Age Range 13 years and older

Administration Time 15 minutes

Administration Type Self-report

Qualification Level B

  • Handscored