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THE STRESSAROUSAL CHECKLIST: AN INDEPENDENT


ANALYSIS
I A I N A . M c C O R M I C K .F R A N K H . W A L K E Y . A N D A . J . W . T A Y L O R
VictoriaUniversitvof Wellinston.New Zealand

The factor structure of the Stress Arousal Checklist (SACL) was


examined using the responsesof a New Zealand sample of 203 first
and second year University students. The results produced an
almost exact replication of the two bipolar factors claimed by the
authors who developed the SACL. In addition the results support
the circumplex model of affect in which mood states are viewed
not as unipolar independent variables but as two dimensiclnal
bipolar variables that can be arranged in a circular form.

Mooo adjective checklists have become a useful means for


evaluating stress responses in a wide range of situations, for

example from a sale training course (Burrows, Cox, and Simpson.


1977)through to an overland Antarctic traverse (McCormick, 1983).
T h e S t r e s sA r o u s a l C h e c k l i s t( S A C L ) ( M a c k a y , C o x , B u r r o w s , a n d
Lazzerini, 1978)is one such measure which contains 45 adjectives
"definitely feel"
that are rated by subjectson a fbur point scalefrom
"do
"feel
not understandor cannot decide" to
through
slightly" and
"definitely
feel." This checklist was developed from Thayer's
(1970)Activation-Deactivation checklist by changingadjectivesthat
"American" in their orientation ftrr'
were considered to be too
British respondents.
Mood checklists have both theoretical and practical value and the
factor structure of these scales has become a matter of increasing
This study was supported in part by the Mental Health Foundation of New
Zealand.
R e p r i n t r e q u e s t s s h o u l d b e s e n t t o F r a n k H . W a l k e y , P s y c h o l c l g yD e p a r t m e n t .
Victoria University of Wellington, Private Bag. Wellington, New Zealand'
Copyrighto 1985Educationaland PsychologicalMeasurement

143

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EDUCATIONALANDPSYCHOLOGICALMEASUREMENT

interestfollowingthe publicationof the circumplexmodelof affect


by Russell(1980).The early factor analyticstudiesof affectscales
(e.g.,Nowlis and Nowlis, 1956)concludedthat therewere between
ten and twelve independentmonopolarfactors comprisingaffect
such as tension,sadness,anxiety, and the like. Russell(1980)
but
howeverhasclaimedthat affectivestateswere not independent
regarded
are interrelatedin a highly systematicfashionthat can be
as two dimensionalbipolarvariablesarrangedin circularform. The
factor structureof the SACL has beenusedas evidenceto support
the presentauthorshaveundertakthe modeland as a consequence
examinationof its factor structure.
en an independent
In orderto reproduceandthereforeverify the factoranalyticbasis
for a subscalestructureit hasbeenarguedthat one factor shouldbe
rotatedfor each subscaleclaimedto be found in a questionnaire
(Walkey and Green, l98l; Walkey, 1982).The initial analysis
thereforeextractedtwo factors as this is the number claimedby
Mackayet al. (1978).
The presentstudy thereforehas two aims, firstly to provide an
independentevaluationof the factor structureof the SACL as a
measureof stress and secondlyto relate these findings to the
circumplexmodel of affect.
Method
The study involved203 first and secondyear students(72 male
and 131female)from Victoria Universityof Wellingtonwho voluntarily completedthe SACL as part of a classlaboratoryexercise.
The subjectsrangedin age from 18 to 54. As Mackay et al. (1978)
that the factorsof the SACL
and Russell(1980)havedemonstrated
to a principalcompowere
subjected
responses
are uncorrelated,
two factors,using
the
first
varimax
rotation
of
with
a
nentsanalysis
the factor analysisprocedurefrom the SPSS/V8packageof programs(Nie, Hull, Jenkins,Steinbenner,
and Bent, 1975).
Results and Dist'ussictn
The results indicate that the two factor bipolar nature of the
measurewas reproducedalmostperfectly(Table l). Only item l6
('dejected')fell outsidethe factor loadingcut off point of .40usedin
the originalMackay et al. (1978)study.All of the other itemswere
clusteredcorrectlyaccordingto the expectedfactor structure.The
reversedpolarityofthe stresssubscaleis an analyticartifactandhad
no importanceto the overall replicationof the factor structure.

I A I N A . M c C O R M I C KE T A L .
.|ABLE
I
Fuctor Loudint!son the SACL
AROUSAt.,

STRESS
Item
No.

Adjective

I
7
9
l3
t4
l6
l9
22
73
ztl
38

Tense
Apprehensive
Bothered
Worried
U neasy
Dejected
Nervous
Distressed
Fearful
Up-tight
Ji t t e r y

2
5
24
35*
)7
4l
43
44

Relaxed
Restful
Peaceful
Cheerlul
Contented
Pleasant
Comfortable
Calm

Mackay
Factorl
Loadings

Present
Faclorl
Loadings

0.75
0.54
0.71
0.71
0.72
0.59
0.64
0.73
0.42
0.70
0.6.1

0.67
-'().5I
-0.70
0.-57
- 0.70
0.35
- 0.69
-0.64
0.53
-0.8t)
0.6ti

0.6u
- 0.5-s
-0.68
0.64
- 0.73
0.68
0.-56
-0.68

0.1)
0.61
0.70
0.-52
0.69
0.62
0.61
0.73

Item
No.

3
6
l0
25
29
30
3l
)a

ll
16
21
-ta

39
42

Adjective

V igorous
Acllve
Energetic
Activated
Alert
I-ively
Stimulated
Aroused
Drowsy
'Iired
tdle
Somnolent
Sluggish
Sleepy

Mackay
Factor I
Loadings

Present
Factor 2
Loadings

0.69
0.71
0.7-5
0.66
0.63
0.77
0.60
0.-56

0.-s5
0.75
0.73
0.63
0.6-5
0.68
0.68
0.58

0.71
-0.61
0.54
- 0.-s6
-0.65
-0.7_s

- 0.62
0.62
0.56
-0.11
0.63
0.67

fhis item loadetl higher than .40 on

Theseresultsprovide strongevidencefor the subscalestructureof


the SACL and support Russell'scircumplex model of afl'ectby
replicatingits two-dimensional
bipolar structure.
REFERENCES
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Lorr, M., McNair,D. M., andFisher,S. (1982).Evidenceof bipolar
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Assessment,46, 432-436.
Mackay,C., Cox, T., Burrows,G., and Lazzerini,T. (1978).An
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17, 283al. British Journul qf Social ond Clinical Psyc'holog.v,
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N i e , N . H . , H u l l , C . H . , J e n k i n sJ,. C . , S t e i n b r e n n eKr ., , a n dB e n t ,
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EDUCATIONALANDPSYCHOLOGICALMEASUREMENT

Nowlis,V. and Nowlis,H. H. (1956).The description


and analysis
of mood.Annolsof the Neu,YorkAcademyof Sc'ienc:e,
65. 345*
3_55.
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and four psychophysiological
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