Apathy Evaluation Scale (AES)

The Apathy Evaluation Scale (AES) is an 18-item measure of the psychological dimension of lack of motivation. The measure quantifies and characterizes apathy in adult patients, treating apathy as a psychological dimension that may be evaluated in patients whose apathy characterizes their overall clinical state, and those in whom it is a symptom of some other syndrome, such as delirium, dementia, or depression.


Geographies Tested: United States of America

Populations Included: Female, Male

Age Range: Adults


Instructions for the self- and informant-rated versions of the Apathy Evaluation Scale (AES):

“For each question, circle the answer that best describes your (his her) thoughts, feelings, and actions during the past 4 weeks.”

For the clinician-rated version of the AES, the following additional instructions apply:

Instructions to patient: “I am going to ask you a series of questions about your thoughts, feelings, and activities. Base your answers on the last 4 weeks. To begin, tell me about your current interests. Tell me about anything that is of interest to you. For example, hobbies or work; activities you are involved in or that you would like to do; interests within the home or outside; with other people or alone; interests that you may be unable to pursue, but which are of interest to you-for example, swimming even though it’s winter.”

Interviewer then notes: (1) Number of interests reported; (2) degree of detail reported for each interest; (3) affective aspects of expression (verbal and nonverbal).

Interviewer then states: “Now I’d like you to tell me about your average day. Start from the time you wake up and go to the time you go to sleep.” How the patient deals with this (and all other) questions is assumed to provide information about how other activities are dealt with (e.g., with initiative, exuberance, and energy). Therefore, prompting is indicated only if the subject seems not to understand what information is being sought or has forgotten the question.

Interviewer notes number of activities, degree of detail, intensity and duration of involvement, and affect associated with presentation of data.

Each item is now presented using the wording of the item itself. Additional information may be requested to clarify responses. Item 15, “Accurate understanding of problems,” is rated by appraising subject’s awareness and understanding of personal or, if present, clinical problems. Simple bridges between items may be used to preserve a conversational quality to the interview. Items are rated as they are presented using all information acquired. The response recorded is the clinician’s assessment of the subject’s response. Thus, if a subject states “a lot” but the clinician judges “somewhat,” the latter is used. The only exceptions are the self evaluation (SE) items (#3, #8, #13, #16). For these items, the subject specifies which response code to use (e.g., Not at All, Slightly); the clinician rater’s appraisal is not considered for SE items.

  1. She is interested in things. (+, Q)
  2. She gets things done during the day. (+, Q)
  3. Getting things started on hisher own is important to himher. (+, SE)
  4. She is interested in having new experiences. (+, Q)
  5. She is interested in learning new things. (+, Q)
  6. She puts little effort into anything. (-)
  7. She approaches life with intensity. (+)
  8. Seeing a job through to the end is important to herhim. (+, SE)
  9. She spends time doing things that interest herhim. (+)
  10. Someone has to tell herhim what to do each day. (-)
  11. She is less concerned about herhis problems than she should be. (-)
  12. She has friends. (+, Q)
  13. Getting together with friends is important to herhim. (+, SE)
  14. When something good happens, she gets excited. (+)
  15. She has an accurate understanding of herhis problems. (+)
  16. Getting things done during the day is important to herhim. (+, SE)
  17. She has initiative. (+)
  18. She has motivation. (+)

Note. Items that have positive vs. negative syntax are identified by +-. : Self-evaluation (SE) items and quantifiable items (Q).

Response Options:
Not at all characteristic.
Slightly characteristic (trivial, questionable, minimal).
Somewhat characteristic (moderate, definite).
Very characteristic (a great deal, strongly).
Requires verbal or nonverbal evidence of intensity.
Note: Very characteristic is the level obtained by normal individuals.

Scoring Procedures

Not Available

Original Citation

Marin, R. S., Biedrzycki, R. C., & Firinciogullari, S. (1991). Reliability and validity of the Apathy Evaluation Scale. Psychiatry research, 38(2), 143-162.

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Qualitative Research

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Field Expert Input

Cognitive Interviews / Pilot Testing








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