The Equanimity Scale – 16 (ES-16) is a 16-item self-report mindfulness scale to assess the level by which a client is taking a non-reactive attitude to thoughts, feelings, and experiences. The ES-16 is for use with adults 18 years of age and older and can be useful in the therapeutic context to assess experiential avoidance and a client’s emotional reactivity – two factors that increase suffering (Grabovac et al. 2011, Hayes et al., 1996).
Equanimity is an attitude that is increasingly recognised as a component of mindfulness practice that is inseparable from experiential awareness (Eberth et al. 2019). Equanimity is “a balanced reaction to joy and misery, which protects one from emotional agitation” (Bodhi 2005, p. 154). Equanimity has also been conceptualised as an “even minded mental state or dispositional tendency towards all experiences or objects, regardless of their affective valence (pleasant, unpleasant or neutral) or source” (Desbordes et al. 2015, p. 357). Accordingly, “cultivating equanimity promotes one’s greater ability to regulate emotion and tolerate distress. In turn, greater coping ability resulting from increased equanimity improves one’s sense of self-efficacy in facing common stressors” (Cayoun et al., 2022, p. 752).
The ES-16 has two subscales:
Reactivity and acceptance are understood as both interrelated and different constructs. Acceptance has been shown to reduce reactivity (Lindsay et al. 2018), highlighting the interconnectedness of the two factors.
For the construction of the ES-16, an initial 42-item instrument was selected from twenty existing self-report questionnaires measuring mindfulness and related constructs. These were chosen on the basis that some of their items were conceptually related to equanimity. After performing an EFA, the instrument was reduced to 16 items and in agreement with past research, the EFA revealed two underlying factors: Experiential Acceptance and Non-reactivity. The final 16-item measure showed good internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = .88), test-retest reliability (n =73; r =.87, p < .001) over 2–6 weeks and convergent and divergent validity, illustrated by significant correlations in the expected direction with the Nonattachment Scale, Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale, Satisfaction with Life Scale and Distress Tolerance Scale (Rogers et al., 2021).
In a validation study by Rogers et al. (2021), 223 adults from the general community (66.8% females and 33.2% males, age range = 18 – 75) were assessed using the ES-16 and means and standard deviations were obtained:
A total score is calculated in addition to subscale scores for Experiential Acceptance and Non-Reactivity, where a higher score indicates higher levels of equanimity – indicating that a client is engaged in experiential acceptance and is non-emotionally reactive.
A normative percentile is also calculated which compares the respondents score to a community sample. A percentile of 50 indicates an average level of equanimity in comparison to the normative comparison group, with higher percentiles indicating greater equanimity. Interpretation using the percentile is useful because it contextualises responses in comparison to healthy peers.
The ES-16 consists of two subscales:
Rogers, H. T., Shires, A. G., & Cayoun, B. A. (2021). Development and Validation of the Equanimity Scale-16. Mindfulness, 12(1), 107–120. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01503-6
Bodhi, B. (2005). In the Buddha’s words: an anthology of discourses from the Pali Canon. Wisdom Publications.
Cayoun, B., Elphinstone, B., Kasselis, N., Bilsborrow, G., & Skilbeck, C. (2022). Validation and Factor Structure of the Mindfulness-Based Self Efficacy Scale-Revised. Mindfulness, 13(3), 751–765. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-022-01834-6
Desbordes, G., Gard, T., Hoge, E. A., Hölzel, B. K., Kerr, C., Lazar, S. W., Olendzki, A., & Vago, D. R. (2015). Moving beyond mindful- ness: defining equanimity as an outcome measure in meditation and contemplative research. Mindfulness, 6(2), 356–372. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-013-0269-8.
Eberth, J., Sedlmeier, P., & Schafer, T. (2019). PROMISE: a model of insight and equanimity as the key effects of mindfulness meditation. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 2389. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02389.
Grabovac, A. D., Lau, M. A., & Willett, B. R. (2011). Mechanisms of mindfulness: a Buddhist psychological model. Mindfulness, 2(3), 154–166. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-011-0054-5.
Hayes, S. C., Wilson, K. G., Gifford, E. V., Follette, V. M., & Strosahl, K. (1996). Experiential avoidance and behavioral disorders: a function- al dimensional approach to diagnosis and treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64(6), 1152–1168. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-006x.64.6.1152.
Lindsay, E., Young, S., Smyth, J., Brown, K., & Creswell, D. (2018). Acceptance lowers stress reactivity: dismantling mindfulness train- ing in a randomized controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 87, 63–73. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.09.015.