How Irritable Are You? The Brief Irritability Test Can Tell You In Just 5 Questions

Not going to lie: Sometimes, I can get a little cranky. But apparently, not all instances of crankiness are on the same level — and it turns out that there’s actually a psychology-backed test that can tell you how irritable you are. As Science of Us points out in a recent piece about the Brief Irritability Test, or BITe for short, irritability can be a symptom of something much larger than just generally being annoyed: Depression, Alzheimer’s, hypoglycemia, and many, many other conditions and illnesses. As such, it’s worth knowing where you fall on the scale — and whether it might be worth looking into with the help of a professional.

The BITe is a fairly recent invention; developed by Susan Holtzman and her colleagues, it was published in 2014. For the research that led to the test’s creation, Holtzman and her team came up with a list of 63 items designed to irritate people. Then they administered a survey containing the items to 1,116 participants — 877 university students and 229 outpatients who suffered from chronic pain — and used the results to develop the five-item scale they termed the Brief Irritability Test.

Science of Us made the test into a neat little widget that adds up your score for you, so I gave it a whirl to see what it said about me. Ready to see how cranky I am on a scale of Grumpy Cat to Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino?

The Test:

I’m always surprised at how short some of these tests are. I mean, I realize that the BITe was designed to be short — not for nothing is it called the Brief Irritability Test — but I always wonder how accurate a reading they can get on us in just a few questions. Then I remind myself that a lot of research conducted by people who are much more scientifically inclined than I am went into developing them, which means they probably know what they’re doing. Since the BITe is so short, I’m just going to go ahead and include my answers to all five questions. They asked me about…

1. My Grumpiness Level

I mean, everyone gets grumpy every now again, right? Do people actually exist who have never been grumpy before in their lives? If you are one such person, do reach out — I’d love to talk to you about what that’s like. I cannot fathom a world that is just rainbows and sunshine all the time, but I would really, really like to.

2. Whether I’ve Gotten This Extreme

I may be periodically grumpy, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt this irate. So… at least there’s that.

3. How I Feel About Other People

This week? Yeah. Mostly because an awful lot of people have failed to do things they had previously agreed to do, and that is annoying. My tolerance for flakiness is low, particularly when a lot of it happens at once.

4. How Bothered I Am

No more than usual.

5. How Irritable I Think I Am

Only when I think about the people from question number three that have been flaking out on their responsibilities. Seriously, you guys. So annoying.

The Results:

As expected. I’m not super chill, but I’m not a live wire most of the time, either. Of course, I suspect that I’m probably more irritable at some times than others; the last time I had a really bad week, for example, I was also in a really bad mood all week as a result — which meant I was definitely more irritable than usual.

I’d be curious to know, though, whether it’s even possible to show definitively how irritable a person is. The questions on the BITe all mostly seem to measure how you’re feeling at the time you actually take the test; is there a different scale that might be able to measure how easily we’re irritated? My guess is that people with shorter fuses in general are probably more irritable as a rule, while people who are a little more laid back are less so.

In any event, head on over to Science of Us to give the test a shot yourself. And also maybe look into some calming habits to cultivate — because even the most relaxed among us need some cooling down every once in a while.

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