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State Anxiety Inventory (SAI) Score Interpretation


The concepts of STATE (S-Anxiety) and TRAIT (T-Anxiety) anxiety were first introduced by Cattell in the 1960s and have been elaborated by Spielberger.

As described in the Manual for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory by Spielberger:

TRAIT anxiety (T-anxiety) refers to a relatively stable individual differences in anxiety-proneness, that is, to differences between people in the tendency to perceive stressful situations as dangerous or threatening and to respond to such situations with elevation in the intensity of their STATE anxiety (S-anxiety) reactions...The stronger the anxiety TRAIT, the more probable that the individual will experience more intense elevation in STATE anxiety in a threatening situation.

An emotional STATE exists at a given moment in time and at a particular level of intensity.  Anxiety states are characterized by subjective feelings of tension, apprehension, nervousness, and worry, and by activation or arousal of the autonomic nervous system. 

Persons with high T-Anxiety exhibit S-Anxiety elevations more frequently than low T-Anxiety individuals becase they tend to interpret a wider range of situations as dangerous or threatening.  High T-Anxiety persons are also more likely to respond with greater increases in the intensity of S-Anxiety in situations that involve interpersonal relationships and threaten self-esteem.  In such situations, S-Anxiety may vary in intensity and fluctuate over time as a function of the amount of stress that impinges upon the person; but the individual's perception of threat may have greater impact on the level of S-Anxiety than the real danger associated with the situation.  (Spielberger, C.D. (1983). Palo Alto, California: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., 1.) 

The State Anxiety Inventory by Spielberger, is measuring STATE anxiety (S-Anxiety), a cross-section of a person's emotional life at the time of the test taking.

Score Interpretation

Means and Standard Deviations (SD) Tables

Table 1
  Working Adults College Students (Full-time student)
  Males Females Males Females
Mean 35.72 35.20 36.47 38.76
SD 10.40 10.61 10.02 11.95



Table 2
  Ages 19-39 Ages 40-49 Ages 50-59
  Males Females Males Females Males Females
Mean 36.54 36.17 35.88 36.03 34.51 32.20
SD 10.22 10.96 10.52 11.07 10.34 8.67


In the interpretation of the score (Part B),

1. List the RAW SCORE on the SAI

2. List the appropriate raw score and standard deviation score for Table 1 AND score range;

3. List the appropriate raw score and standard deviation score for Table 2  AND score range

4.  Use the following categories to describe your general level of STATE anxiety:


Overall Stress Level
Low Stress Level Moderately Low Stress Level Average Stress Level Moderately High Stress Level High Stress Level


The range of STATE anxiety (S-Anxiety) scores on the SAI is 20 to 80.

If, for example, you are a full-time college student, male, age 35 and scored a 53 on the SAI:

The mean for a College Student is 36.47 with a Standard Deviation of 10.02, meaning an average score range would be approximately  26.47 to 46.47 (36.47+ or - 10.02). 

The mean for a 35-year-old male is 36.54 with a Standard Deviation of 10.22, meaning an average score range would be approximately 26.54 to 46.54 (36.54 + or - 10.22).

Example in reporting on Part B:

B.  I am 35 year-old male and a full-time student. 

SAI score = 53

Table 1-- Mean=36.47, SD=10.02, Range=26.47-46.47

Table 2--Mean=36.54; SD=10.22; Range=26.54-46.54

General Stress Level - Moderately High