Test Yourself: How Verbally Aggressive Are You?
This scale is designed to measure how people try to obtain compliance from others. For each statement, indicate the extent to which you feel it’s true for you in your attempts to influence others. Use the following scale: 5 = strongly agree, 4 = agree, 3 = undecided, 2 = disagree, and 1 = strongly disagree.
_____ 1. If individuals I am trying to influence really deserve it, I attack their character.
_____ 2. When individuals are very stubborn, I use insults to soften their stubborness.
_____ 3. When people behave in ways that are in very poor taste, I insult them in order to shock them into proper behavior.
_____ 4. When people simply will not budge on a matter of importance, I lose my temper and say rather strong things to them.
_____ 5. When individuals insult me, I get a lot of pleasure out of really telling them off.
_____ 6. I like poking fun at people who do things that are stupid in order to stimulate their intelligence.
_____ 7. When people do things which are mean or cruel, I attack their character in order to help correct their behavior.
_____ 8. When nothing seems to work in trying to influence others, I yell and scream in order to get some movement from them.
_____ 9. When I am unable to refute others' positions, I try to make them feel defensive in order to weaken their positions.
_____ 10. When people refuse to do a task I know is important without good reason, I tell them they are unreasonable.
How did you do? In order to compute your verbal aggressiveness score simply add up your responses. A total score of 30 would indicate the neutral point, not especially aggressive but not especially confirming of the other either. If you scored about 35 you would be considered moderately aggressive and if you scored 40 or more you’d be considered very aggressive. If you scored below the neutral point you’d be considered less verbally aggressive and more confirming when interacting with others. In looking over your responses, make special note of the characteristics identified in the 10 statements that refer to the tendency to act verbally aggressive. Note those inappropriate behaviors that you’re especially prone to commit.
What will you do? Because verbal aggressiveness is likely to seriously reduce communication effectiveness, you probably want to reduce your tendencies to respond aggressively. Review the times when you acted verbally aggressive. What effect did such actions have on your subsequent interaction? What effect did they have on your relationship with the other person? What alternative ways of getting your point across might you have used? Might these have proved more effective? Perhaps the most general suggestion for reducing verbal aggressiveness is to increase your argumentativeness.
Source: These items come from a 20-item scale developed by Infante and Wigley (1986) and factor analyzed by Beatty, Rudd, and Valencic (1999). See "Verbal Aggressiveness" by Dominic Infante and C. J. Wigley, Communication Monographs 53, 1986 and Michael J. Beatty, Jill E. Rudd, & Kristin Marie Valencic, "A Re-evaluation of the Verbal Aggressiveness Scale: One Factor or Two? Communication Research Reports, 1999, Vol. 16, 10-17. Copyright