Background: Hedonic tone and its absence, anhedonia, are important in psychopathological research, but instruments for their assessment are lengthy and probably culturally biased.
Method: A new scale was constructed from the responses of a large sample of the general population to a request to list six situations which afforded pleasure. The most frequent items were reviewed and those likely to be affected by cultural setting, age, or sex were removed. A pilot study led to an abbreviated scale of 14 items, covering four domains of pleasure response. This questionnaire was subjected to psychometric evaluation in new samples from the general population and psychiatric patients.
Results: The scale was found to have a score range that would distinguish a 'normal' from an 'abnormal' response. Validity and reliability were found to be satisfactory.
Conclusions: The new scale, the Snaith-Hamilton Pleasure Scale (SHAPS), is an instrument which may be recommended for psychopathological research.