| Equanimity Scale-16 (ES-16)
The Equanimity Scale–16 (ES-16) is a 16-item self-report mindfulness scale to assess the level by which a client is taking a non-reactive attitude to thoughts, feelings, and experiences. The ES-16 is for use with adults 18 years of age and older and can be useful in the therapeutic context to assess experiential avoidance and a client’s emotional reactivity – two factors that increase suffering (Grabovac et al. 2011, Hayes et al., 1996).
Equanimity is an attitude that is increasingly recognised as a component of mindfulness practice that is inseparable from experiential awareness (Eberth et al. 2019). Equanimity is “a balanced reaction to joy and misery, which protects one from emotional agitation” (Bodhi 2005, p. 154). Equanimity has also been conceptualised as an “even-minded mental state or dispositional tendency towards all experiences or objects, regardless of their affective valence (pleasant, unpleasant or neutral) or source” (Desbordes et al. 2015, p. 357). Accordingly, “cultivating equanimity promotes one’s greater ability to regulate emotion and tolerate distress. In turn, greater coping ability resulting from increased equanimity improves one’s sense of self-efficacy in facing common stressors” (Cayoun et al., 2022, p. 752).
The ES-16 has two subscales:
- Experiential Acceptance: where the client demonstrates an attitude that does not seek to resist or attach to the experience and involves acceptance of all internal experiences (thoughts, feelings, body sensations, etc.).
- Non-Reactivity: where the client demonstrates non-reactivity to experiences preventing attachment or aversion to these experiences (e.g. thoughts, feelings) or where they have the ability to inhibit a previously learned response to these experiences.
Reactivity and acceptance are understood as both interrelated and different constructs. Acceptance has been shown to reduce reactivity (Lindsay et al. 2018), highlighting the interconnectedness of the two factors.
For the construction of the ES-16, an initial 42-item instrument was selected from twenty existing self-report questionnaires measuring mindfulness and related constructs. These were chosen on the basis that some of their items were conceptually related to equanimity. After performing an EFA, the instrument was reduced to 16 items and in agreement with past research, the EFA revealed two underlying factors: Experiential Acceptance and Non-reactivity. The final 16-item measure showed good internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = .88), test-retest reliability (n =73; r =.87, p < .001) over 2–6 weeks and convergent and divergent validity, illustrated by significant correlations in the expected direction with the Nonattachment Scale, Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale, Satisfaction with Life Scale and Distress Tolerance Scale (Rogers et al., 2021).
In a validation study by Rogers et al. (2021), 223 adults from the general community (66.8% females and 33.2% males, age range = 18 – 75) were assessed using the ES-16 and means and standard deviations were obtained:
- ES-16 Total Score: Mean 58.76 (SD 10.36)
- Experiential Acceptance: Mean 29.59 (SD 5.71)
- Non-Reactivity: Mean 29.17 (SD 5.99)
Scoring and Interpretation
A total score is calculated in addition to subscale scores for Experiential Acceptance and Non-Reactivity, where a higher score indicates higher levels of equanimity – indicating that a client is engaged in experiential acceptance and is non-emotionally reactive.
The ES-16 consists of two subscales:
- Experiential Acceptance (Items 1 – 8): where the client demonstrates an attitude that does not seek to resist or attach to the experience and involves acceptance of all internal experiences (thoughts, feelings, body sensations, etc.).
- Non-Reactivity (Items 9 – 16): where the client demonstrates non-reactivity to experiences preventing attachment or aversion to these experiences (e.g., thoughts, feelings) or where they have the ability to inhibit a previously learned response to these experiences.
Given that the construct of equanimity has reliably been shown to include both experiential acceptance and non-reactivity, measuring equanimity with the ES-16 is best done using the full-scale score. However, each subscale may also be used if only one is of interest. In this case, the results from a single subscale should not be assumed to fully reflect equanimity.
The ES-16 contains 8 items requiring reversing the scores. Reverse scoring is necessary when a research instrument, such as the ES-16, includes a group of items worded in the opposite direction to the others (e.g., positively vs negatively phrased) while measuring the same construct. This approach is commonly employed when some items are more meaningful or more readily understandable when written in this way. With the ES-16, using the online version from NovoPsych automatically reverses the relevant scores and provides percentile scores. For the pen-and-paper version, the items to be scored in reverse are: 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15 and 16. Reversing the scores of listed items requires the following rescoring: 1 = 5; 2 = 4; 3 = 3; 4 = 2; 5 = 1.
Rogers, H. T., Shires, A. G., & Cayoun, B. A. (2021). Development and Validation of the Equanimity Scale-16. Mindfulness, 12(1), 107–120. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01503-6
Bodhi, B. (2005). In the Buddha’s words: an anthology of discourses from the Pali Canon. Wisdom Publications.
Cayoun, B., Elphinstone, B., Kasselis, N., Bilsborrow, G., & Skilbeck, C. (2022). Validation and Factor Structure of the Mindfulness-Based Self Efficacy Scale-Revised. Mindfulness, 13(3), 751–765. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-022-01834-6
Desbordes, G., Gard, T., Hoge, E. A., Hölzel, B. K., Kerr, C., Lazar, S. W., Olendzki, A., & Vago, D. R. (2015). Moving beyond mindful- ness: defining equanimity as an outcome measure in meditation and contemplative research. Mindfulness, 6(2), 356–372. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-013-0269-8.
Eberth, J., Sedlmeier, P., & Schafer, T. (2019). PROMISE: a model of insight and equanimity as the key effects of mindfulness meditation. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 2389. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02389.
Grabovac, A. D., Lau, M. A., & Willett, B. R. (2011). Mechanisms of mindfulness: a Buddhist psychological model. Mindfulness, 2(3), 154–166. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-011-0054-5.
Hayes, S. C., Wilson, K. G., Gifford, E. V., Follette, V. M., & Strosahl, K. (1996). Experiential avoidance and behavioral disorders: a function- al dimensional approach to diagnosis and treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64(6), 1152–1168. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-006x.64.6.1152.
Lindsay, E., Young, S., Smyth, J., Brown, K., & Creswell, D. (2018). Acceptance lowers stress reactivity: dismantling mindfulness training in a randomized controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 87, 63–73. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.09.015.
The ES-16 can be freely reproduced for clinical and research purposes.
The ES-16 is also available through NovoPsych Software for Administering Psychological Questionnaires