COURAGE - How to Measure Courage

Lions of Kruger/ Geoff Sutton 2009

Courage is a virtue.

Despite being an ancient virtue, courage is a relatively new topic of study in psychological science. As with any psychological concept, definitions can vary. Woodward and his colleagues have begun a line of inquiry, which includes a measurement scale.

Here’s a 2007 definition:

“Courage is the voluntary willingness to act, with or without varying levels of fear, in response to a threat to achieve an important, perhaps moral, outcome or goal. (p. 136)”

Factor analysis suggested participants identified three types of threats: Physical, social, and emotional. When scale items were analyzed, four factors emerged, which were categorized by the authors as follows:

1. work/employment courage
2. patriotic/religion/belief-based courage
3. social-moral courage
4. independent or family-based courage

23-item Measure

A popular measure of courage is the Woodard Pury Courage Scale, which consists of 23-items (2007).

Each item describes a situation. Participants read each item and provide two responses. First, they provide a rating of agreement from 1 = Strongly Disagree to 5 = Strongly Agree. Second, they rate how fearful they would be in a situation from 1 = Little Fear to 5 = Very High Fear.

Items deal with various life situations such as highly challenging work situations and intervening in a dangerous interpersonal situation.

Educators, researchers, and students may want to add a courage scale to their survey projects.

Creating Surveys

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Conditions of Use

The scale may be used in non-commercial research and educational survey projects. Contact the author for commercial use. The full scale is protected by copyright and not for public posting.

Locating the full set of scale items

Find the scale in the article—see the reference at the end of this post. The 23-items are listed in the Appendix to the article (page 147). It is also available for download in PsycTESTS ®

Read more about Courage in chapter 2 of Living Well

Resource Link:  A – Z Test Index

Woodard, Cooper R., & Pury, Cynthia L. S. (2007). The construct of courage: Categorization and measurement. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 59(2), 135-147. doi: 10.1037/1065-9293.59.2.135

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