Self Scale

What is presented on this page is a summary. The full description of the development of the Self Scale is presented here: http://DeLand, L., Strongin, D.L., Schwartz, R.C. (2006). The development of a personality scale based on the Internal Family Systems Model. Journal of Self Leadership, 2(1), 1-14

The purpose of the Self Scale is to suggest how much access an individual currently has to what is called “Self” within the IFS concept of the personality.

The Concept Of Self

The core Self is viewed as the seat of consciousness, the essence of who and what a person is, and the natural and capable leader of the internal system.  The Self can be experienced as active, aware, discerning and strong, balanced, calm, and compassionate. Every individual, no matter how distressed or traumatized, has a core Self that is healthy and intact.  If the Self is not leading the internal system (e.g., a person is not calm or compassionate, or their behavior is harmful to themselves or others), it is not because the Self is defective, missing, immature, or inadequate, only that it is being constrained, either externally (by a stressful environment) or internally (by polarized Parts).  Once the Self is free from constraints, it already has everything it needs to be an active, wise leader of the internal system and to move toward a healthy, fully functioning life. 

For the purposes of this research it was hypothesized that Self would be a separate factor from Parts.  The hypothesis was supported.  Results suggest that the dimension of Self is not simply a reversal of, or absence of, parts, but a unique and separate dimension of personality, validating the IFS model’s conception of personality.

The Items

In order to express the concept of Self in a scale, statements were used that reflected the “eight C’s” of Self (calm, clarity, courage, creativity, connectedness, curiosity, compassion, and confidence) as well as other statements that are characteristic of the experience of being “in Self” or “Self-led,” e.g., the ability to feel and stay centered, core self-esteem, resilience, the ability to resolve inner conflicts, the ability to self-soothe, the ability to withstand the pressure of unhealthy impulses, the ability to accept all parts, and the willingness to listen to all parts, even ones that are holding painful feelings.

It is interesting to note that items relating explicitly to creativity, connectedness, curiosity, and compassion proved to be too weak statistically to be retained.  It is possible that these items are affected by issues of social desirability, i.e., that our desire to be seen as creative and compassionate interferes with our ability to clearly perceive how creative and compassionate we really are.

Self Has Two Factors

The 25 items of the original 178 that loaded most strongly and clearly on the Self factor during the factor analysis were analyzed separately.  The 25-item scale demonstrates internal consistency (a = .97).  Item-to-total correlations range from .58 to .86.  When these 25 Self items were examined with a separate factor analysis (Varimax rotation), two dimensions of Self were revealed. Even though one factor explains most of the variance, the two factor solution makes theoretical and clinical sense, as it is consistent with the IFS model’s conception of Self as having a dual-nature (Schwartz, 1995, p. 38).  The first factor, what we have called Self-Qualities, reflects the experiential aspect of Self, i.e., feeling calm and centered.  Items that load on this factor include “I feel balanced and calm,” and “I feel worthy and valuable.”  The second factor, what we have called Self-Leadership, reflects the instrumental aspect of Self.  It contains items relating to the ability to maintain one’s center when under emotional stress.  Items that load on this factor include “I can manage okay in the midst of chaos,” and “I feel able to comfort myself when something bad happens.”  Even though they represent two aspects of Self, it must be emphasized that these two factors are very closely related and several items load strongly on both factors.

Construct Validity

Group differences were examined using independent t-tests.  The low trauma group scored higher on the Self Scale than the high trauma group, t(810) = 13.01, p < .000.  Males scored higher on the Self Scale than females, t(465) = 3.54, p < .000.  However, when level of trauma was controlled for, gender differences lost significance because females reported higher levels of trauma than males.

Long vs Short Self Scale

This research produced two measures of Self.  One is the 25-item Self Scale that was derived from the first phase of the factor analysis.  The other is the 9-item Self subscale that emerged during the final phase of the factor analysis and is included in the full IFS Scale. The correlation between the short and the long Self scales is very high (r = .98, < .000, 1-tailed), so for all intents and purposes, they are interchangeable.  The advantage of the long scale is that it is a more comprehensive exemplification of the concept of Self; the greater number of items gives a clearer sense of what Self is.  A disadvantage of the long scale is that there are no reverse-scored items, which makes it less than optimal as a clinical measure.  However, the Self Scale is presented in the hopes that its content and its revealed two-factor structure will be a helpful contribution to the emerging research on the concept of Self and Self-leadership.

The Self Scale

  1. I feel energetic and joyful. *
  2. I know who I am and what I want from life. *
  3. I feel a sense of inner peace. *
  4. I feel confident that I’ll reach my goals. *
  5. I feel happy and playful. *
  6. I feel hopeful and optimistic. *
  7. I feel capable and strong. *
  8. I accept and like myself, just as I am. *
  9. I feel a deep sense of confidence in myself. *
  10. I feel content with my life, just as it is. *
  11. I feel balanced and calm. *
  12. I feel worthy and valuable. *
  13. I feel I can choose the life I want. *
  14. I feel that there are many people who care about me. *
  15. I feel deeply committed to life. *
  16. I feel able to comfort myself when something bad happens. **
  17. I feel able to take care of myself. **
  18. I can manage okay in the midst of chaos. **
  19. I can maintain my inner calm even under pressure. **
  20. I feel able to face the bad things I’ve done. **
  21. I feel like I have good self-control. **
  22. When something upsets me, I can calm myself down in healthy ways. **
  23. I’m able to resolve inner conflicts fairly quickly. **
  24. I feel confident that I can handle whatever life brings me. ***
  25. I feel able to meet life’s challenges with courage. ***

a = .97; item-to-total correlations: .58 to .86

* Indicates items that load on the Self-Qualities factor.

** Indicates items that load on the Self-Leadership factor.

*** Indicates items that load almost equally on both factors.

Items in BOLD: comprise the 9 items of the Self subscale in the full IFS Scale