Attitudes Toward Self (ATS)

Author of Tool: 

Carver, C. S.

Key references: 

Eisner, L. R., Johnson, S. L., & Carver, C. S. (2008). Cognitive responses to failure and success relate uniquely to bipolar depression versus mania. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117, 154-163. 

Carver, C. S., & Johnson, S. L. (2009). Tendencies toward mania and tendencies toward depression have distinct motivational, affective, and cognitive correlates. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 33, 552-569.

Carver, C. S.  (1998).  Generalization, adverse events, and development of depressive symptoms.  Journal of Personality, 66, 609-620.   

Carver, C. S., La Voie, L., Kuhl, J., & Ganellen, R. J.  (1988).  Cognitive concomitants of depression:  A further examination of the roles of generalization, high standards, and self-criticism.  Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 7, 350-365.

Hayes, A. M., Harris, M. S., & Carver, C. S. (2004). Predictors of self-esteem variability. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 28, 369-385 

Primary use / Purpose: 

The Attitudes Toward Self (ATS) was designed to measure three potential self-regulatory vulnerabilities to depression.


The Attitudes Toward Self (ATS) Instrument measures three constructs: holding of overly high standards; the tendency to be self-critical at any failure to perform well; and the tendency to generalize from a single failure to the broader sense of self-worth. Very consistently, only generalization has uniquely related to depression (see Carver et al. 1988 reference below). Evidence that generalization is a prospective predictor of depression in interaction with adverse events has also been found. More recently, it has been found that generalization relates to depression but not mania, suggesting a divergence among vulnerabilities to the two sides of bipolar disorder.


The three scales of the ATS are factorially distinct, and several samples have demonstrated their predictive relevance for concurrent depression. Alpha reliabilities in these samples were on average .76 for the High Standards Scale, .78 for the Self Criticism Scale, and .78 for the Generalisation Scale. In this sample, women reported a stronger tendency towards Generalisation.



PDF iconScale and Instructions

Web link to tool:

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):