Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy; An International Quarterly, Volume 13, Number 2, 1999

The Child and Adolescent Scale of Irrationality: Validation Data and Mental Health Correlates
Michael E. Bernard Felicity Cronan
Department of Educational Psychology Administration and Counselling California State University, Long Beach
A revised Child and Adolescent Scale of Irrationality (Bernard & Laws, 1988) was administered to 567 children and adolescents to determine the construct validity of Albert Ellis's theory of rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT) as applied to childhood irrational thought. Participants also completed Spielberger's Trait Anxiety, Anger and Curiosity scales in order to be able to examine the relationships among childhood irrational thought, emotionality and to establish convergent/divergent validity. Teachers rated each participating student on the dimensions of emotional problems, low effort' (in school work), and behavior problems. A principal components analysis with varimax rotation produced a four-factor solution ("Self-downing," "Intolerance of Frustrating Rules," "Intolerance of Work Frustration," and "Demands for Fairness"), Significant correlations were obtained among Total Irrationality and the four irrational subscales with trait anxiety, anger, as well as with teacher ratings of students. Aspects of Ellis' s theory were confirmed while the emergence of two forms of low frustration tolerance and the primacy of self-downing may require a reconceptualization of the nature of irrational thought in the childhood period. Rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is now recognized as an important therapy with children and adolescents who experience emotional and behavioral problems (e.g., Bernard & DiGiuseppe, 1990; 1994; Bernard & Joyce, 1993; Ellis & Bernard, 1983). In spite of its widespread popularity with practitioners as well as research which supports its effectiveness with a wide range of childhood problems (Hajzler & Bernard, 1991; Morris, 1993). there is a lack of a psychometrically sound © 1999 Springer Publishing Company


g. Children's Survey of Rational Beliefs (Knaus. 1977). REBT proposes that (1) irrational beliefs are concomitant with and help to create emotional problems (e. and Shorkey and Saski's (1983) adaptation of the adult-level Rational Behavior Inventory (Shorkey & Whiteman.g. (b) Others must treat me considerately and kindly and in precisely the way I want them to treat me. and easily and get virtually nothing that I don't want (Ellis & Bernard. can't bearthatthings that are happening to me are things that must not happen"). if they don't society and the universe should severely blame. & Tiegerman. quickly. Leaf Robin. and behavior. musts. Ellis has also emphasized in his recent writirigs that "demandingness" (e.g.g." "demands") (e.. The currently available instruments were designed to assess Ellis's original 11 irrational beliefs. Of these instruments. "The world is a hopeless place when things do not occur as they must.g. 1974). oughts.g. Joyce. 1975) to three core irrational beliefs: (a) I must do well and win approval.g.. 1977).122 Bernard and Cronan and theoretically valid instrument for assessing the irrational beliefs of children and adolescents. and Exner (1988) found that low frustration tolerance and "awfulizing" predicted emotionality . 1990b). Crisci.. thereby artificially inflating the reported correlations between cognition. terrible or horrible that I am not doing as I must.."). DiGiuseppe. (b) "I can't stand-it-itis" or"low frustration tolerance" (e.. (c) Conditions under which I live must be arranged so that I get practically all that I want comfortably. achievement.. fairnesslkindness/consideration and comfort) is more important than the core irrational thinking processes (demandingness. Three REBT-oriented psychometric instruments have been designed for use with younger populations: The Ideas Inventory (Kassinove. Ellis has modified his original list of 11major irrational beliefs (Ellis & Harper. Another major weakness of the current measures of childhood irrationality is that they do not reflect recent developments in Ellis's conceptualization of irrationality (e. "It is awful. & Greaves. damn. rage. All of the aforementioned instruments include noncognitively worded items. 1998). and (2) modifying irrational beliefs improves childhood psychological functioning (e. others.g. or world" (e. Ellis & Dryden. or else I rate as a rotten person. (c) "global rating and blaming of self. depression) in younger populations (e. high anxiety. 1984). 1987). global rating). and punish them for their inconsiderateness. 1985). A problem with all of these instruments relates to the issue raised by Smith (1982) and Zurawski and Smith (1987) of including items in scales of irrationality which are behavioral and emotional in content rather than exclusively cognitive. demands) is the core irrational thinking process and that the following three irrational thinking processes are all derivative: (a) "awfulizing" (e."). emotion. only the Ideas Inventory has reported any reliability and validity data. "I can't stand..g.. shoulds. and whether the content of irrational beliefs (approval. Bernard & Joyce. There is considerable debate within the cognitive-behavioral and REBT community of scholars concerning the primacy of "absolutizing" ("shoulds. O'Kelly. Bernard. awfulizing. I can't stand-it-itis..

The CASI was designed to overcome the above-mentioned problems associated with existing instruments measuring childhood irrationality and included the exclusive use of cognitively worded items and the inclusion of items reflecting Ellis's newer conception of irrationality.300 boys and girls in grades 4 .. Significant correlations were obtained between Total Irrationality (and subscales of irrationality) and measures of anxiety. low scores correlated with the expression of anger and discipline problems. New items representing LowFrustration Tolerance were developed. students referred for discipline problems scored significantly higher on the Selfdowning and Nonconformity subscales than nonreferred students. Specific research questions being addressed in this study were: (1) What is the factorial structure of the revised CAS I and how does it relate to Ellis's theory concerning the nature of childhood irrational thought (do core irrational processes or content dominate)?.Child and Adolescent Irrationality Scale 123 better than demandingness. this subscale had been conceptualized as a Conformity subscale with high scores anticipated to have been correlated with negatively emotionally. and (c) the Dependence subscale. while factorially distinct. Low-Frustration Tolerance) and accounted for 43% of variance.g. In the two studies reported by Bernard and Laws. selfdowning and other-downing constituted separate factors. In developing a scale to measure the irrational beliefs of teachers. (2) What is the relationship between irrational thought and childhood emotionality (extent of convergent validity)? . Dependence. The main problems which characterized the 1988 version of the CASI were: (a) The items on the Nonconformity scale had to be scored negatively as item wordings in the Nonconformity subscale reflected conformity: "People should always obey rules and behave well. proved to have low convergent validity." Originally. factor analyses of the CASI with over 2. demands for comfort and need for comfort. The present study attempted to refine and revise the CAS!.60). Replacement items were written for the Nonconformity subscale. However. Bernard and Laws (1988) reported on the development of the Child and Adolescent Scale of Irrationality (CAS I) which was designed to measure the irrational beliefs of children and adolescents between the age of 10 and 18 years. Bernard's (1990a) factor analysis of DrGiuseppe's and associates' (1988) General Attitude and Belief Scale found that irrational beliefs of adults clustered around Ellis's core irrational processes including need for achievement. "self-downing") and content ("intolerance of work frustration") were important. and self-concept.38). Demands on Others. Discriminant validity of the CASI was established by a higher correlation between the CAS I and another measure of childhood irrationality (Idea Inventory. need for approval. anger. The Dependency subscale was deleted from the CAS!. Bernard (1988) found in his factor analysis that both core irrational beliefs (e.12 resulted in six factors of irrationality (Self-downing. Nonconformity. . Instead. than between the CASI and measures of trait anxiety (. Demands for Comfort. (b) The Low Frustration Tolerance subscale correlated negatively with discipline problems. As well.48) and trait anger (.

" and "It's horrible" types of statements. A factor analysis yielded a 44-item five-factor scale. In addition. ease. fair behavior for oneself. characterized by a "must. The revised CAS I contained 49 items used in the present study and included most of the items from the 1988 CASI with the exception of the five items of the Dependency subscale which failed to correlate with any measure of childhood functioning. 9. In the original scale.. . 10 and 11) in Melbourne. "I shouldn't have to obey rules and behave well. characterized by "It's awful. achievement. The items on the CASI (see Table 1) were worded in the form of statements and subjects expressed the extent of their agreement or disagreement using a 5-point .g. and good behavior for self. low frustration tolerance characterized by "I can't stand it.. New items were written to measure low frustration tolerance. Classes where randomly selected from the overall number of classes available for participation at anyone grade level. dependence. each of which focused on specific frustrating events associated with homework and chores (e. awfulizing.e. 5 and 6) and two middle/senior high schools (three classes of students in grades 7." "It's terrible.g.g. fun."). safety.124 Bernard and Cronan METHOD Subjects Subjects were 567 children and adolescents (290 boys. physical attractiveness. i. approval. Items contained in the original CASI (Bernard & Laws." or "Others are worthless" types of statements and self-global rating characterized by "I'm worthless" or "I'm no good" types of statements. control of others. autonomy from others. 14 irrational beliefs were identified that revolved around the need or demand for comfort. "The world is horrible.. New "Nonconformity" items were rewritten so that agreement with the item reflected irrationality (e. 1988) were based on a logical analysis of the values and concerns of children and adolescents as well as REBT theory. "It's awful to have lots of homework to do. Measures The Child and Adolescent Scale of Irrationality (CASI)."). good behavior from others. Victoria. Students ranged in age from 10 to 17 years. 277 girls) who were recruited from two elementary schools (two classes of students in grades 4.fair behavior from others. the other elementary school was primarily working class. Australia. the original CASI assessed the five irrational processes of demandingness.. 8." "need" or "should" statement." or "It's more than I can take" statements. "People should always obey rules and behave well. The two upper-grade schools and one elementary school were predominantly middle class. other global rating characterized by rating of others or the world.") rather than in the earlier version of the CASI where disagreement with items on the Nonconformity subscale reflected nonconformity (e." "It's intolerable.

60 . I think I need more time to get in the right mood. When things are boring. It's awful to have too much work to do and not enough time to do it. A teacher who unfairly picks on a student is totally rotten.40 . I can't stand classmates who act inconsiderately. uncomfortable or tense.50 . The worst thing in life is having to work on things that are boring.40 It's really unfair to be picked on by a teacher.43 . -:. Teachers should really act fairly all the time. If I wasn't so weak. What I find impossible to put up with is having to do chores around the house when I could be having fun. Factor 2 Intolerance of Frustrating Rules (eigenvalue = 3. if someone disapproves or rejects me.54 . I shouldn't have to obey rules and behave well.9) . It's really awful to have lots of homework to do.. I think it's horrible to behave well all the time. I think I'm worthless.48 . I can't stand classmates who always follow the rules and behave well. Classmates who always follow rules and behave well are jerks.67 . Principal Components Analysis of CAS I Factor 1 Self-downing (eigenvalue = 7.51 I can't stand having to behave weII and follow rules.69 .".40 . I think I'm hopeless when people reject me. I think it just goes to show what a hopeless person I am.59 .61 . .43 .46 People would act more fairly around me if I wasn't such a hopeless person.54 .59 . When it's time to get started with my homework. I think I'm a total fool when I fail at something important. When I get frustrated with homework which is hard.56 . I think I shouldn't have to do anymore.54 . person. Factor 3 Intolerance of Work Frustration (eigenvalue = 2.57 . A parent who acts negatively or critically toward his or her kids is totally rotten.62 .42 .56 . I need to be rested and relaxed before I can work hard. Factor 4 Demands for Fairness (eigenvalue = 1.66 .50 .4) . I'm a failure when I don't succeed.. things in my life would be easier. It's terrible to have to behave well all the time.54 .65 . When I feel nervous.":5.0) . People shouldn't always have to obey rules and behave well. I think it's unfair and that I shouldn't have to do anymore._. I think I'm a dull and uninteresting.40 When I start getting tired doing homework. Child and Adolescent Irrationality Scale 125 Table 1.6) .

g. 1970) and his 1O-item Trait Anger Scale (Spielberger. submits work of an inadequate standard. anxious or withdrawn. 5 strongly agree) so that subjects could locate a response that was reasonably appropriate for them. Teacher Ratings of Student Behaviors Scale.. Gorsuch. A behavioral measure was also included so that any obtained correlations could not be attributed to common method variance. 3. does not submit assignments/homework for correction by date due. & Crane. to permit the generalization of a continuous distribution and allow for a factor analysis of the data to be undertaken (Comrey. The 30-item scale used in the present study consists of Spielberger's previously published 10-item Trait Anxiety Scale (Spielberger. is disruptive in class.g.." Ellis made suggestions concerning revisions of two items that will be undertaken in subsequent use of the CASI: "If! wasn't so weak. fails to observe school rules. Read each carefully and decide how accurately it describes each student's behavior in your grade. Teachers received the following written instructions: "The following three statements describe student behaviors." Teachers were asked to globally rate each student in the above three areas using a 5-point Likert scale (1 = student never acts in this way. is talkative in class. his 10-item Trait Curiosity Scale (Spielberger. I think I need more time to get into the right mood. fails to complete work set in class." "Lacks Effort. This rating scale consisted of three items rating students on the frequency of "Behavior Problems. angry). Gorsuch.g.. 1970). 3 not sure. The student lacks effort and is unmotivated (e. is involved in misdemeanors in the school. is inattentive in class. 4 agree. Content validity of the CAS I was established by a review by Albert Ellis (personal communication. Russell. One class or subject teacher completed a rating scale for all participating subjects in his/her class." = = = = = State-Trait Personality Index. fails to complete homework by due date. procrastinates)." 1. is argumentative or noncompliant in class/playground). 2 = student seldom acts in this way. & Lushene. & Lushene. r 2. 5 student always acts in this way). a brief rating scale was developed for this study. The Trait Curiosity Scale was employed as a measure of divergent validity. The student is a behavior problem (e. depressed. 1983). Student exhibits signs of emotional difficulties (e." and "Emotional Problems. from 1 to 5 (1 strongly disagree. 1998) who wrote that "The items you list in your Child and Adolescent Scale of Irrationality largely have face validity. 4 = student frequently acts in this way. 1988). things in my life would be easier" and "When it's time to get started with my homework. = . Jacobs.126 Bernard and Cronan ( Likert scale. 2 disagree. 3 = student sometimes acts in this way. shy. September. low self-esteem. In order to obtain observational data for the purposes of establishing convergent validity.

40 or higher and was labeled "Intolerance of Frustrating Rules." Factor 3 accounting for 8.90).1% of the variance contained 9 items loading . Correlations are also presented between the CASI and its four subscales with Trait Anxiety . Director or Professional Education. John's University. Consensus concerning the names of the factors that were consistent with REBT was achieved as follows: Factor 1 accounting for 18. Prior to completing the questionnaires. (2) factors were to be defined by a minimum of five items loading at least . the items composing each of the factors were submitted to Albert Ellis as well as Ray DiGiuseppe.0 or greater." Factor 4 accounting for 4." Internal reliabilities (Cronbach alpha) for the CASI were as follows: Total Irrationality (.0% of the variance contained 12 items loading . subjects were informed that their responses would remain confidential and would not be made available to school personnel. In line with the recommendations of Stevens (1986).session took approximately 30 minutes. RESULTS A principal components analysis with varimax rotation was conducted.40 or higher and was labeled "Intolerance of Work Frustration. All scales were read aloud to students in grades 4.40 or higher and was labeled "Self-downing. Intolerance of Frustrating Rules (.9% of the variance (see Table 1). All subjects were administered the scales by the second author of this study-an experienced psychologist. Department of Psychology.60). Four interpretable factors were identified accounting for 39. Twelve students who did not wish to participate or whose parents had not given consent for them to complete the questionnaires were given an alternative activity by their class or subject teacher which they completed while their classmates completed the questionnaires. two criteria were used to determine the number of factors and the number of items retained in the CASI: (1) factors had to have eigen values of 1. When read aloud. Intolerance of Work Frustration (. their class or subject teacher completed the 3-item rating scales on each student. 5 and 6 and to one class of grade 7 students who had several poorly skilled readers.82).40 or higher and was labeled "Demands for Fairness. Albert Ellis Institute and Professor. the assessment . Teachers received no special training in the completion of the rating scale. Table 2 presents the intercorrelations among the CAS I subscales. Trait .Child and Adolescent Irrationality Scale 127 Procedure Parental permission was obtained for participating subjects. In order to arrive at names for the factors (subscales) that were consistent with Ellis's theory (and in line with the initial editorial review of this manuscript)." Factor 2 accounting for 9.1 % of the variance contained 5 items loading . The scales were administered during class time with the CASI being administered first.7% of the variance contained 9 items loading .72) and Demands for Fairness (.84).40. Self-downing (. While subjects completed the CASI and the Spielberger scales. St.

20 .10 j-:" above .18 . Total Irrationality correlated significantly with Trait Anxiety (r = . perhaps.72 .40) and Trait Anger (r = .24 1.36).00 .00 .11 .49 .03 .24 .14 . Measures of Personality. 1.22 .27 LOO . Correlations Student.04 .18 .22 .09 .19 .55 -.10 1. *Teacher Ratings of Curiosity. Other significant correlations of relevance included the correlation of Self-downing with Trait Anxiety (r = .27 -.52 . Demands for Fairness with Trait Anger (r = . and Intolerance of Work Frustration with Trait Anger (r= .17 .17 Demands for Fairness .10 .43 .22 -. and Trait Anger as well as teacher ratings of students.04 -.08 .20 .18 Total Irrationality Total Irrationality Self Downing Intolerance of Frustrating Ruler Intolerance of Work Frustration Demands for Fairness Trait Anxiety Trait Curiosity Trait Anger Behavior Problems* Low Effort* Emotional Problems* Note.10 .13 . Minimal correlations were obtained between Trait Curiosity and measures of irrationality with. and Teacher Ratings of Students Intolerance of Frustrating Rules Intolerance of Work Frustration . the small negative correlation (r = -.24 .50 SelfDowning . with Intolerance of Frustrating Rules having some significance.55). Correlation Coefficients Among Factor Scores on the CASI.128 Bernard and Cronan Table 2.36 .50 1.25 .27).52 .30 .00 .23).49 .00 .30 .13 significant at . Intolerance of Frustrating Rules with Trait Anger (r = 38). In terms of Spielberger's personality scales. .40 -.72 .25 .32 .43).77 .38 .001.77 .17 .03 .

1984) that self-downing can be equated to Piaget's developmental notion of conservation and reflects a cognitive inability to hold a positive value of oneself constant in the face of contradictory information (e. to determine its relationship to Ellis's theory of irrational thought. 1987).30) and "Emotional Problems" (r= . nonderivative characteristic of childhood thought. Piaget & Inhelder. In this study-as was found in Bernard and Laws (1988)-self-downing appeared primary to self-demands. Child and Adolescent Irrationality Scale 129 Partly due to the relatively large sample size.g. The four subscales of the CASI which resulted from the factor analysis appear to have adequate internal reliability although in future validation on new samples. Of note was the significant correlation found between Total Irrationality and "Emotional Problems" (r= 30). Self-downing as a basic core of irrational thinking has now been obtained across a variety of scales of irrationality including the Teacher Irrational Beliefs Scale (Bernard. a large number of significant correlations were found among the CASI and the teacher ratings of students. In particular. That is.32). It bears further investigation to determine the extent to which this separation is reflected in socially and clinically meaningful differences in work-avoidant and rule-breaking behavior. and to examine the extent to which irrational thought of children and adolescents is associated with different indices of childhood emotionality and problem behavior. DISCUSSION The aim of this research was to confirm the factor structure of the revised CASI. and musts. The tendency to take one negative aspect of oneself and overgeneralize to global judgments of self-worth appears to be a primary.27). the Parent BeliefInventory (Joyce. It has been argued elsewhere (Bernard & Joyce. The factors themselves correspond to some but not all of Ellis's theory. and the General Attitude and Belief Scale (1998).. "Intolerance of Frustrating Rules" correlated with "Low Effort" (r= . Low Frustration Tolerance separates into two forms: Intolerance of Frustrating Rules and Intolerance of Work Frustration. appear to derive psychologically from absolutistic shoulds.49 correlation between these two forms of low frustration tolerance suggests that not all children who may procrastinate at their work (Intolerance of Work Frustration) . Ellis proposes that self-demands for achievement and approval are primary with self-downing being derivative. The results of this study indicate that in childhood. Ellis (Ellis & Dryden.g. The . 1990a). a dominant dimension of irrational thought for children and adolescents appears to be self-downing which can be regarded as an irrational thought process which does not. 1958).'. oughts. new items might need to be added to the Demands for Fairness subscale to increase its internal consistency and convergent validity. 1995). "Behavior Problems" (r= .. 1987) has proposed that people who believe that they must not be frustrated and that they cannot stand frustration (referred to by Ellis as "low frustration tolerance") are likel y to experience high levels of anger when confronted with the hassles and difficulties of life. Ellis & Dryden. as Ellis argues (e.

In the Bernard and Laws (1988) study. As well. low self-esteem) needs to be studied. Weinrott and Jones (1984) found interobserver reliability to decline when observers were not informed that reliability data were being collected. academic procrastination. and Howell (1987) .20-between untrained observer's rating and self-report measures of children's problem behavior. These investigators found low mean weighted correlations-typically in the order of . the weak correlations between this belief and trait anger and behavior problems indicate that convergent validity has not been established. Relatively weak correlations between trait curiosity and different subscales of irrationality provide evidence of divergent validity. Intolerance of Frustrating Rules has convergent validity with behavior problems and trait anger. Total Irrationality. global rating of self and others) which more directly determine the level and degree of emotional distress. Nonconformity (Intolerance of Frustrating Rules) and Demandingness (Demands for Fairness) with students referred for discipline problems as well as with objective measures of underachievement (discrepancy between student aptitude and grade point average).g.130 Bernard and Cronan are likely to break rules (Intolerance of Frustrating Rules).and adolescent-oriented practitioners. it is the way people evaluate their interpretations of reality (e. "self-downing" appears to be a strong feature of childhood anxiety. confirming previous findings (Bernard & Laws. The lower correlations of the CASI with the teacher ratings of student behavior than those correlations obtained with the Spielberger scales paralleled the findings obtained in the meta-analysis of Achenbach.. Ellis's theory proposes Demands for Fairness ("You must treat me well") as a core irrational belief.g. The correlation of Total Irrationality with trait anger and trait anxiety suggests that not only does cognitive ideation occupy a prominent role in childhood emotion. These earlier measures of convergent validity were more objective than those employed in the present study. In particular.g. absolutizing.. I can't stand-it-itis. McConaughy. the relationship between the different types of childhood irrationality obtained in this study that constitute the CASI and direct measures of childhood behavior (e. stronger correlations were obtained between Total Irrationality. The CASI was developed in the 1980s for use by child.. While the present study's findings require further validation on larger I I E E ( E E E E H J( K . faulty interpretations of reality) play an important role in emotional difficulties. more important. but. Weaker convergent validity was obtained between Intolerance of Work Frustration and trait anger and low effort. that the distinctive features of irrational thought as defined by Ellis are in evidence. Ellis proposes that while automatic thoughts (e. Intolerance of Work Frustration and Self-Downing showed small to moderate correlations with different student problem behaviors. behavior problems. 1988). Follow-up investigations with larger sample sizes are required to determine whether there are different factor structures for children and adolescents and for males and females. However. awfulizing. The factor structure of the CASI supports the construct validity of this belief in childhood.

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