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The Psychometric Properties of the Arabic Version of the Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale (BERS)

Article type: Published article


Strengths perspective is a relatively new approach in the field of social work. Unlike the pathological approach used earlier in assessment, strengths perspective focuses on the assessment of clients' strengths and resources that could be utilized to help them overcome problematic situations. The present study reports on the standardization of an Arabic version of the Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale (BERS) and examines its factor structure, reliability and validity. A probability sample of 533 Kuwaiti parents of students from public and private schools was drawn to respond to a questionnaire designed to determine the psychometric properties of the Arabic version of the BERS. To assess its criterion, convergent, and divergent validity, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was utilized. It was found that the scale was valid and the factors appeared to be highly stable and reliable. The findings of this study provide support to the suitability of the scale to be utilized by both researchers and practitioners. Use of the pathological or disease model has been dominant in many fields of practice, such as psychiatry, education, and social work (De Jong, et al., 2002; Corcoran, et al., 2004). This type of perspective has greater emphasis on disease entities and weaknesses, and is more likely to lead to detrimental consequences. To illustrate, (Snyder, et al., 2006) point out that by amplifying clients' liabilities and shortcomings, mental health professionals tend to behave in a manner to confirm the diagnostic results, and clients apt to think and act in accord with the assigned labels. In the same vein, (Seligman, et al., 2000) state that “working exclusively on personal weaknesses and on damaged brains, however, has rendered science poorly equipped to effectively prevent illness” (p.7–8). All in all, perspectives that are risk-focused share the inclination to encourage concentrating on what is wrong and overlooking what is right (Faller, 2000; Lafferty, et al., 2003). As a result, they fall short in the pursuit of promoting human functioning. To abate the costly consequences of the pathological model, the strengths perspective has been introduced in the arena of practice. Rather than competing with the pathological model, the strengths perspective is meant to be complementary in nature. It is based on the assumptions that even the troubled persons possess strengths and resources capable of increasing their productivity and satisfaction in life (De Jong, et al., 2002; Lopez, et al., 2003; Snyder, et al., 2006). There are voluminous studies attesting to the usefulness of the strengths perspective. (Ingram, 2005) points out that strengths can be readily infused into preventive interventions. Likewise, people who are troubled have the desire to build their strengths, and correct their weaknesses (Duckworth, et al., 2005). More importantly, incorporating the strengths dimension into the helping process is expected to enable mental health professionals to view clients through more comprehensive lenses (Snyder, et al., 2006). Unfortunately, the development of assessment tools tapping human strengths and virtues are in the early stages, and they need further validation. As an essential component of the helping process, assessment is concerned with understanding and helping people (Walsh, et al., 2001), and serves many purposes, such as problem clarification, diagnosis, intervention planning, and intervention evaluation (Merrell, 1999). It has been noted by (Lopez, et al., 2003) that most assessment tools lack investigation of strengths and success. However, a few scales have been developed recently toward this end, some of which included dimensions tapping states or trait considered assets, while others developed specifically to tap strengths (Early, 2001). (Gilgun, 1999) has developed the Clinical Assessment Package for Assessing Clients' Risks and Strengths (CASPARS) which gives equal consideration to weaknesses and strengths of the clients. This scale is meant to be clinical, so it has to be filled out by practitioners only. Unlike this scale, (Goodman, 2001) has developed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), which can be completed by parents, teachers, or youth. The utility of both scales is dubious due to the under representation of strengths items, and the limiting of their application to professionals. Choosing the Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale to prepare an Arabic version is justified by the extensive research documenting its sound psychometric properties as well as its utility with regard to decision making of child placement (e.g., Epstein, 1999; Epstein, et al., 1999; Epstein, et al., 2002; Epstein, et al., 2002; Oswald, et al., 2001). Since there were two editions of the BERS, it is important to point out that the former was addressed in this investigation. The BERS is a psychometrically sound, norm-referenced, standardized instrument that assesses the strengths of children with emotional or behavioral disorders (Epstein, et al., 2001). The scale consists of 52 items divided into five factor-analytically derived subscales. The sub-scales assess five major areas of functioning: 1) Interpersonal Strengths (14 items) which measures ability to control emotions and behaviors in social situations, such as reacting to disappointment in a calm manner; 2) Family Involvement (10 items) which measures participating and relations with family, such as participating in family activities; 3) Interpersonal Strengths (11) items which assesses the child's perception of competence and accomplishment, such as demonstrating a sense of humor; 4) School Functioning (9 items) which addresses competence in school and classroom tasks, such as paying attention in class; and 5) Affective Strengths (7 items) which focuses on the ability to accept affection from others and to express emotions, such as acknowledging painful feelings. Each item is rated on a scale of 0 to 3, in which 0 = not at all like the child, 1 = not much like the child, 2 = like the child, and 3 = very much like the child. According to this rating, higher scores indicate greater perceived emotional and behavioral strengths. The BERS underwent a three-step validation process. To establish the scale's content validity, a sample of 250 parents and professionals were asked to list up to ten behaviors and emotions characteristic of child emotional and behavioral strengths, which resulted in 1200 statements. After inappropriate and redundant statements were deleted, 190 statements remained and were then rated by 396 parents and professionals, which reduced the list to 127 statements. Second, the list was tested for its ability to discriminate between children with more emotional and behavioral strengths and those with less emotional and behavioral strengths using a sample of 110 children with emotional/behavioral disorders and 148 without emotional/behavioral disorders. This test led to deleting 47 items that did not discriminate between the two groups. Finally, the remaining 80 items were then analyzed using principal components extraction and varimax rotation. The remaining 68 items were normed on a representative national sample of 2,176 children as well a second national sample of 861 children with emotional/behavioral disorders. A final factor analysis was conducted and resulted in the present 52 items. To assess t he convergent validity of the BER S, studies were conducted to compare the BERS with the Walker-Maconnell Scale of Social Competence and School Adjustment-Adolesent Version, the Achen-bach's Teacher Report Form (TRF), and the Systematic Screening for Behavior Disorders (SSBD) (Harniss, et al., 1999). The two studies suggested that the BERS had moderate to high correlations with all scales. In terms of reliability, inter-rater and test-retest reliability were evaluated in two separate studies by Epstein, et al., and Ryser (1999). In both studies, teachers or teachers' aides rated individuals with emotional/behavioral disorders. The studies suggested that the BERS possessed stability over time and demonstrated consistency between raters. Correlation in both studies was over .80, while half were over .90. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the BERS is reliable and valid with a culturally different population. This study was carried out on a relatively large national Kuwaiti sample to determine if strengths dimensions were similar across cultures or culturally specific. To gather empirical evidence on the psychometric properties of the Kuwaiti version of the scale, factor analysis reliability coefficients, convergent and criterion related validity were calculated.

Full citation

Al‐Mutairi, H. and A. Al‐Khurinej, The Psychometric Properties of the Arabic Version of the Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale (BERS). Digest of Middle East Studies, 2008. 17(2): p. 54-65.


Methods Condition Gender Age Country Setting Sample size
parents of students from public and private schools Both Kuwait
Commuinty 533

Number of items

52 items


Measure does not require training

Required time

Not available

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Articles last updated: December 2020