Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert)

Gauge the severity of your patient’s fear of happiness using the Fear of Happiness Scale. Learn more about the scale through this guide!

By Matt Olivares on Apr 08, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

Use Template

What is the Fear of Happiness?

Before discussing the Fear of Happiness Scale created by Gilbert et al. back in 2012, let’s briefly discuss the fear of happiness.

The Fear of Happiness, also known as Cherophobia, stems from the distorted belief that being happy, or too happy, will give rise to bad things later. Mohsen Joshanloo, a renowned psychologist known for his research on how cultural backgrounds contribute to a person’s psychology, believes that the fear of happiness stems from a person’s cultural background and beliefs and that this fear suppresses positive emotions.

The Fear of Happiness isn’t just a belief that being happy will result in harmful or unpleasant things happening. It also suggests that happiness makes you a morally worse person (quite extreme, to be honest). According to this belief, having positive emotions and expressing them is terrible for you and others, and pursuing happiness is also bad for you and others.

If you’re a mental healthcare professional handling a patient with a fear of happiness, they will likely believe the same beliefs mentioned earlier, and they will also have the following “symptoms” of the fear:

  • They don’t want to express happiness because they believe it will upset others,
  • They tend to avoid social situations and social gatherings,
  • They even avoid being in relationships that will make them happy,
  • And they might even reject significant life-changing opportunities that will bring them happiness and success!

Do note that the current edition of the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders doesn’t recognize the fear of happiness as a clinical disorder. This means that there are no standardized treatments for it and that it’s still being researched by experts. It can still be examined to see how this fear negatively impacts a person’s overall mental well-being. To gauge this, you can use the Fear of Happiness Scale that Gilbert et al. created.

Printable Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert)

Download this Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert) to assess a patient’s fear of happiness.

How to use the Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert)

There are two Fear of Happiness Scales. One was made by Joshanloo, which is a five-item scale. However, we will discuss the second one, which Paul Gilbert and his fellow researchers made. This version has nine items.

There are two ways to use this Fear of Happiness Scale. You can choose to use this scale as an interview questionnaire. If you opt for that method, you need to explain what this scale is to the patient, then ask them to rate themselves based on each item using the preset answers of the test. This will take longer to finish, but at the very least, you can get your patient to expound on their answers on the spot.

The other method is to hand a copy of the scale to the patient and have them answer it independently. They can even take it home. If you’re handing them a copy to accomplish independently, agree on when they should submit a fully-accomplished copy of the scale.

Either way, they simply need to rate the following items:

  1. I worry that if I feel good, something bad could happen
  2. Feeling good makes uncomfortable
  3. I find it difficult to trust positive feelings
  4. Good feelings never last
  5. When you are happy, you can never be sure that something is not going to hit you out of the blue
  6. If you feel good, you let your guard down
  7. I don’t let myself get too excited about positive things or achievements
  8. I feel I don’t deserve to be happy
  9. I am frightened to let myself become too happy

They can select one of the following for each item:

  • Not at all like me = 0 points
  • A little bit like me = 1 point
  • Moderately like me = 2 points
  • Quite a bit like me = 3 points
  • Extremely like me = 4 points

This scale doesn’t have any score ranges or designations to work with, but the higher the score is, the higher the severity level of their fear of happiness. It’s best to use their self-ratings as discussion points for the next session to understand better why they rated themself as such for each item.

Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert) Example

Now you know the basic gist of what the fear of happiness s and its symptoms are, and also what Gilbert’s version of the Fear of Happiness Scale is like and how it is answered, it’s time for you to see what it looks like. We simply adapted the scale created by Gilbert and his team. We added radio buttons and a comments box so you can jot down information your patient gives you regarding their answers.

If you believe that this scale will help you gauge your patient well enough to help you determine what you can do for them, then download our free Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert) PDF Template!

Download this Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert) Example:

Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert) Example

When is it best to use the Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert)?

Considering the limited nature of the Fear of Happiness Scale, which consists of just nine items and lacks a clear scoring range,  it is advisable to administer the Fear of Happiness Scale when you have already advanced to the middle phase of your care/therapy program.

Your patient must have already deemed you worthy of your trust. The reason why this should be issued in the middle of your program is that they are more likely to be willing to talk to you about their unhappiness, their views on happiness, and the factors that contribute to their feelings of unhappiness and fear of happiness. These are topics that they will likely not talk about with you if they don’t trust you yet, so make sure to break the ice first!

Once they’re comfortable with you, they will start to open up to you. If they ever bring up the topic of unhappiness and they seem to have a negative view of happiness, then that’s your signal to issue the scale at some point. If they don’t have negative views on happiness, then this scale is useless, but if they do, you can gauge their fear of and aversion to happiness.

What are the benefits of using the Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert)?

It can easily be accomplished within a few minutes and is inexpensive.

The Fear of Happiness Scale, developed by Gilbert and his team, consists of nine items patients can rate themselves on a scale of 0 to 4. It is a straightforward process that doesn't require special preparation from the mental healthcare professional or the patient. As a mental healthcare professional, you can easily print multiple copies of the scale and keep them readily available for discussions with patients who express a fear or aversion towards happiness. 

Alternatively, you can utilize our PDF template and conveniently send it to patients via email. Since no calculations are involved, you don't need to worry about equations or scoring. Once you receive a completed copy from the patient, you can delve deeper into their answers and determine the appropriate course of action based on the information provided.

It can help professionals determine how distorted their patient’s view of happiness is.

Remember that the higher the patient’s total score, the higher the severity level of the patient’s fear of happiness. If their answers score high on the scale, you can ask them to explain why they answered the way they did for each item to help you understand where they are coming from and to elucidate the nuances of their views on happiness. If their views on happiness are distorted, they can be corrected through therapy like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy using CBT techniques and having them engage in CBT activities to reconfigure how they view happiness.

It can be used to monitor patients later on.

The Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert) can be utilized on multiple occasions, such as during routine check-ups. Consider a scenario where you have been conducting Cognitive Behavioral Therapy sessions to address your patient's distorted perceptions of happiness. Naturally, you would be interested in assessing whether they are experiencing any changes due to the therapy. 

One way to gauge this is by re administering the Fear of Happiness Scale and comparing their responses. If their answers differ and their scores are lower, it can be reasonably inferred that your treatment approach is yielding positive results. However, if there is no notable change, it may be necessary to make adjustments and observe whether those modifications prove effective.

How long does it take to accomplish Gilbert’s version of the Fear of Happiness Scale?
How long does it take to accomplish Gilbert’s version of the Fear of Happiness Scale?

Commonly asked questions

How long does it take to accomplish Gilbert’s version of the Fear of Happiness Scale?

The scale only has nine items, so it shouldn’t take more than five minutes.

How is this different from the Fear of Happiness Scale by Joshanloo?

The version by Joshanloo has five items, and the rating scale is between 1 to 7.

What if I’m not enrolled in some sort of therapy? Can I use this for myself?

Yes, you may use the Fear of Happiness Scale to gauge the severity of your fear of happiness, but please don’t make any medical-related decisions or self-diagnose yourself with anything. Don’t even think this is a substitute for therapy. If your fear of and aversion to happiness negatively impacts your overall mental well-being, please seek help from a professional.

Join 10,000+ teams using Carepatron to be more productive

One app for all your healthcare work