About the Beck Depression Inventory

While the current version of the Beck Depression Inventory is not available for download due to limitations imposed by the copyright holder, availability of the original version from 1961 is less restricted.

About the Beck Depression Inventory

There are literally dozens of other different depression tests available in the scientific literature. Arguably the most famous of these is the Beck Depression Inventory, the most current version of which is the BDI-II, published in 1996. Unfortunately, the current version of the Beck Depression Inventory itself is closely controlled by its publisher, which has declined to make the inventory directly available to the public. As a result, this particular depression test has become marginalized in terms of use by ordinary members of the public; it does still enjoy widespread use amongst researchers, however. (Having been designed for use by trained mental health professionals, of course, it was never intended to be self-administered.)

It is possible to download the original Beck Depression Inventory from 1961, the copyright for which is held by the American Psychological Association rather than Pearson Education (which acquired the original publisher, Harcourt Assessment). This original form of the Beck Depression Inventory is also widely available to academic researchers via inter-library loan, under fair use provisions of international copyright law:

  • Beck, A. T.; Ward, C. H.; Mendelson, M.; Mock, J.; Erbaugh, J. (1961) ‘An inventory for measuring depression’, Archives of General Psychiatry, 4: 561-571.

Note that the 1961 version was adapted in 1969, and the second version, the BDI-II, specifically reflects the changes in the ‘text revision’ version of the DSM-IV. Therefore while the 1961 version remains of significant historical interest, it has long since been superseded for current research purposes.

Numerous studies have demonstrated its validity and reliability, with BDI-II results corresponding to clinician ratings of depression in more than 90% of all cases.

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About Scoring the BDI

To learn more about how the BDI is scored, and to see the original version of the test, click to download the Beck Depression Inventory in scanned form, provided here only for personal research use.

This test should not be relied on in its original form for any type of serious use — it is included here primarily for historical interest.

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