Developing a non-verbal, self-report assessment tool of action tendencies: The Depicted Action Tendencies (DAT) instrument.


OToole MS(1), Mikkelsen MB(1).
Author information:
(1)Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus C, Denmark.


The objectives of this series of studies were to develop and evaluate a visual self-report measure, the Depicted Action Tendencies (DAT), for the assessment of action tendencies, and to examine relations between action tendencies and emotions. In three independent studies, 938 participants evaluated drawings depicting individuals engaged in actions, reflecting four classes of action tendencies; the tendency to approach reward, approach threat, avoid threat, and avoid reward. The DAT instrument showed specificity in terms of associations with emotions and verbal action-tendency items with minimal overlap between drawings (Study 1). The specificity of the drawings extended to settings in which participants recalled events from their lives (Study 2 and 3). The findings suggest that the drawings can capture different action tendencies in contexts labeled with the same emotion and provide initial support for the DAT instrument as a valid and reliable measure of action tendencies. We believe the DAT instrument offers potential value both in experimental and clinical settings. Given its pictorial format, the DAT is easy to comprehend and may represent a valuable instrument for assessing action tendencies in a quick manner at the momentary level. It may also be useful to individuals with limited linguistic skills or difficulties in verbalizing sensations and feelings.