Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire – Positive

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Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire – Positive

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About Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire – Positive

Scale Name

Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire – Positive

Author Details

R.E. Ingram and K.S. Wisnicki

Translation Availability

Not Sure


Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire–Positive (ATQ-P; Ingram & Wisnicki, 1988). The ATQ-P is similar in format to the ATQ-N and was designed to measure the frequency of positive self-statements. Respondents rate 30 items on a 5-point scale according to how frequently each thought or a similar thought had occurred to them during the past week (1 = not at all, 2 = sometimes, 3 = moderately often, 4 = often, 5 = all the time). This measure has good psychometric properties (Ingram, Kendall, Siegle, Guarino, & McLaughlin, 1995). Internal reliability appears to be excellent, with coefficient alphas reported as high as .95 (Burgess & Haaga, 1994).

The Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire-Positive (ATQ-P) was developed in 1988 by R.E. Ingram and K.S. Wisnicki as a tool to assess the frequency of positive automatic thoughts in individuals. It fills a gap in the field of psychology, which traditionally focused primarily on the negative aspects of automatic thoughts.

The ATQ-P typically consists of 30 statements representing positive self-talk and optimistic perspectives. Individuals rate the frequency of each thought on a scale, with higher scores indicating more frequent positive automatic thinking. Examples of items include “I am respected by my peers,” “I am proud of my accomplishments,” and “I have a good sense of humor.”

The ATQ-P is valuable in research and clinical settings for several reasons. It helps identify positive cognitive patterns that contribute to well-being, and can be used in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to challenge negative thoughts and promote positive self-talk. Additionally, it provides insights into an individual’s overall cognitive style and emotional state, offering a more comprehensive understanding of their mental health.

Administration, Scoring and Interpretation

The ATQ-P can be administered in various ways, depending on the context:


  • Individuals can complete the questionnaire independently, following the provided instructions.
  • Each item is presented with a rating scale, typically ranging from 1 (not at all) to 5 (all the time).
  • Individuals rate the frequency with which they experience each positive thought.
  • The total score is calculated by summing the individual ratings for all items.

Clinically Administered:

  • A therapist or clinician may guide the individual through the questionnaire, providing clarification and support if needed.
  • The therapist can discuss the individual’s responses and explore the meaning and impact of their positive automatic thoughts.
  • This approach can be particularly helpful in understanding the individual’s cognitive patterns and identifying areas for intervention.

Research Setting:

  • In research studies, the ATQ-P may be administered as part of a larger battery of tests.
  • Standardized procedures are followed to ensure consistency and reliability of data collection.
  • The results are analyzed to examine the relationship between positive automatic thoughts and various psychological variables.

Reliability and Validity

The ATQ-P demonstrates good reliability and validity, making it a valuable tool in assessing positive automatic thoughts.


  • Internal consistency: Studies have shown high Cronbach’s alpha coefficients (typically above 0.90), indicating the items within the questionnaire are consistent and measure the same underlying construct.
  • Test-retest reliability: The ATQ-P has shown stability over time, meaning individuals tend to get similar scores when taking the questionnaire again within a reasonable timeframe.


  • Content validity: The items directly reflect the concept of positive automatic thoughts, ensuring the questionnaire measures what it intends to.
  • Concurrent validity: The ATQ-P has been shown to correlate positively with other measures of positive emotions, well-being, and self-esteem, supporting its ability to capture positive thinking patterns.
  • Discriminant validity: The ATQ-P can differentiate between individuals with high and low levels of positive automatic thoughts, demonstrating its ability to distinguish between different levels of the construct.

Available Versions



Ingram, R. E., & Wisnicki, K. S. (1988). Assessment of positive automatic cognitionJournal of consulting and clinical psychology56(6), 898.

Ingram, R. E., Atkinson, J. H., Slater, M. A., Saccuzzo, D. P., & Garfin, S. R. (1990). Negative and positive cognition in depressed and nondepressed chronic-pain patients. Health Psychology9(3), 300.

Important Link

Scale File:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ATQ-P?
A tool to assess the frequency of positive automatic thoughts.

Who developed it?
R.E. Ingram and K.S. Wisnicki in 1988.

How is it administered?
Can be self-administered or given by a clinician. Individuals rate how often they experience each positive thought.

Is it reliable and valid?
Yes, studies show good internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and various types of validity.

How is it used?
Research: examines positive thinking patterns. Clinical settings: helps understand cognitive style and promote positive self-talk.


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