Developing a standardised measure of psychological safety

Liza Morton, Nicola Cogan, Jacek Kolacz, Marek Nikolic, Calum Calderwood, Thomas Bacon, Emily Pathe, Damian Williams, Stephen Porges

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background: Psychological safety is increasingly recognised as central to mental health and wellbeing. The Polyvagal Theory offers a ‘Science of Safety’ which can help inform clinical practice to promote wellbeing, resilience and post-traumatic growth, whilst mitigating trauma. To date, there is no standardised measure of psychological safety comprising psychological, physiological and social components. The current study aims to develop such a self-report measure. Methods: The study comprised three stages: First, seven key stakeholders with expertise in trauma, applied psychology and The Polyvagal Theory generated 107 items using a variation of the Delphi method. The second stage aimed to reduce the number of items and assess the underlying factor structure. Participants (n =342) completed the 107 item measure which was disseminated via an anonymised, online Qualtrics survey. Exploratory factor analysis guided by Cronbach’s alpha and omega coefficients resulted in a reduced scale with 29 items of psychological safety. Ethical approval was granted by the University of Strathclyde ethics committee. Current stage of work: Data collection began for the final phase in February 2021 and should be completed by June 2021. The 29 item ‘safety measure’ has been disseminated via an online Qualtrics survey with five other measures for the purpose of comprehensive psychometric validation via tests of dimensionality, reliability, known groups, criterion, convergent, predictive and discriminant validity. Expected results: The findings will result in a psychometrically validated measure of psychological safety. Discussion: The development of a holistic, standardised measure of psychological safety will benefit both academic and clinical work.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021
Event35th Annual Conference of the European Health Psychology Society - Online
Duration: 24 Aug 202128 Aug 2021 (Link to conference website)


Conference35th Annual Conference of the European Health Psychology Society
Abbreviated titleEHPS 2021
Internet address


  • psychological safety
  • polyvagal theory
  • trauma


Dive into the research topics of 'Developing a standardised measure of psychological safety'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • Measuring feelings of safety

    Kolacz, J., Bjorum, E., Morton, L. & Cogan, N., Sept 2022, The Traumatic Stress Research Consortium (TSRC) at the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, September 2022, p. 1-3 3 p.

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

    Open Access

Cite this