Social Climate Scales: A User's Guide


Author: Rudolf H. Moos

The Social Climate Scales are a set of environmental assessment procedures designed to be used by qualified clinicians, consultants, program evaluators, and researchers.

This Guide to the Social Climate Scales introduces the ten Scales and gives an overview of their use. The topics covered in the Guide apply to all the Scales:

  • a brief description of the Social Climate Scales
  • a definition of social climate with reasons for measuring it
  • the dimensions that the Scales measure
  • how clinicians, consultants, program evaluators, and researchers use the Scales
  • practical suggestions for administering the Scales and giving feedback about the results
  • ideas behind the Scales and methods used to construct them
  • additional sources of information

Use this Guide with the separate Scale manuals, which give detailed information about each Scale’s development, norms, practical applications, psychometric characteristics, and research.

Copyright © 1994, 2003 by Rudolf H. Moos

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ScaleEnvironment Assessed

Community Settings

Community Oriented Programs Environment ScaleCommunity treatment programs (100 items, 10 subscales: normed on 192 programs containing 4,692 members and 186 programs containing 1,134 staff)
Family Environment ScaleFamilies, including single-parent and stepfamilies (90 items, 10 subscales; normed on 1,432 normal and 788 distressed families)
Group Environment ScaleSocial, task-oriented, psychotherapy, and mutual support groups (90 items,10 subscales, normed on 305 groups)
Work Environment ScaleWork milieus (90 items, 10 subscales; normed on over 8,300 employees)

Educational Environments

Classroom Environment ScaleJunior high and high school classes in regular, vocational, and alternative schools (90 items, 9 subscales, normed on 382 classes)
University Residence Environment ScaleUniversity student living groups, including dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and student cooperatives (100 items, 10 subscales, normed on 168 living groups)

Residential Care and Treatment Settings

Ward Atmosphere ScaleHospital-based treatment programs, including alcoholism and substance abuse programs (100 items, 10 subscales, normed on 193 programs)

Other Institutions

Correctional Institutions Environment ScaleJuvenile and adult correctional facilities (90 items, 9 subscales, normed on 112 juvenile and 83 adult units)
Military Environment InventoryMilitary units, including those in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and National Guard (84 items, 7 subscales, normed on 32 military companies)

From the Author

"The social climate is the 'personality' of a setting or environment, such as a family, a workplace, a social or task-oriented group, or a classroom. Each social setting has a unique 'personality' that gives it unity and coherence. Like people, some social environments are friendlier and more supportive than others. Just as some people are self-directed and task oriented, some environments encourage self-direction and task orientation. Like people, environments differ in how restrictive and controlling they are.

-- Rudolf Moos, Social Climate Scales: A User's Guide

Classroom Environment Scale
Evaluates the effects of course content, teaching methods, teacher personality, class composition and characteristics of the overall classroom environment.
Community Oriented Programs Environment Scale
Measures client and staff perceptions of the program environment. As one of the Social Climate Scales, the CPES has been widely used in clinical settings and program evaluation.
Correctional Institutions Environment Scale
Measures the social climate of juvenile and adult correctional programs.
Family Environment Scale
Assesses the social climate of all types of families.
Group Environment Scale
Assesses the social climate of groups and teams. It has been used in clinical and organizational settings to facilitate group counseling and team building, and to compare members’ and leaders’ views of their group or team.
Military Environment Inventory
Provides an insightful look into the military environment and a means of pinpointing areas in need of change.
University Residence Environment Scale
Assesses the social climate of university student living groups.
Ward Atmosphere Scale
Measures the actual, preferred, and expected treatment environments of hospital-based psychiatric programs.
Work Environment Scale
Helps evaluate productivity, assess employee satisfaction, and clarify employee expectations to ensure a healthy work environment.