Ratio scales of sensory and affective verbal pain descriptors

Pain. 1978 Jun;5(1):5-18. doi: 10.1016/0304-3959(78)90020-9.


The results of two experiments show that ratio scales of sensory and affective verbal pain descriptors are valid, reliable and objective. In the first experiment, 16 subjects rated 15 sensory and 15 affective verbal pain descriptors by numerical magnitude estimation and by cross-modality matching to handgrip force. Ratio scales of sensory and affective verbal pain descriptors computed for two separate groups were highly correlated between the groups (sensory, r = 0.97; affective, r = 0.98), as well as over session (r = 0.99, 0.98). Scales based on an individual's data correlated equally with either another set of scales from the same individual (r = 0.96, 0.98) or a mean scale from a similar group (r = 0.96, 0.89). Sensory and affective verbal descriptor scales from the first experiment correlated highly (r = 0.99, 0.99) with those from the second experiment in which 40 subjects rated verbal pain descriptors by cross-modality matching to time duration and to handgrip force. The ratio responses to the verbal descriptors in both experiments demonstrated specific functional relationships found for measurable psychophysical stimuli. This result supports the validity of cross-modality matched ratio scales of verbal stimuli. The reliability of these scales is shown by the high between-session, between-group and between-experiment correlations. The objectivity is shown by the similarity of within-subject and between-subject correlations for both group and individual descriptor scales.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain* / classification
  • Pain* / psychology
  • Sensation