The Adult Attitude to Grief scale (AAG)

The AAG scale was devised as a research tool to test the construct validity of the three categories – overwhelmed feeling, controlled functioning and resilient coping – first articulated in the Range of Response to Loss model (See Fig.1 below) What became evident (Machin 2001) was its potential usefulness as a practice tool; providing a profile of a person’s grief experience and perspective on their bereavement. The practice usefulness of the AAG was tested and found to be beneficial to both clients and practitioners in assessing the nature of expressed and experience grief. Additionally, it gave direction and focus for support/ therapeutic intervention and repeat use provided a measure of the change taking place in a bereaved person’s grief perspective (Machin and Spall 2004; Machin 2007). A qualitative comment from a widow in the second piece of research illustrates experience repeated by many who have used the AAG in their practice, “I had to pick up the pieces after my husband died suddenly. The (AAG) scale made me think about my situation and what I needed to do to get on. With help from my counsellor I felt, when I did the scale a second time (at the end of the intervention), as if I’d moved on and I was able to see that.’

Range response model 09.00.29.png

Fig. 1 The Range of Response to Loss model as a conceptual base for the Adult Attitude to Grief scale.

The concept of vulnerability was subsequently included in the RRL model and research was undertaken to statistically validate the psychometric properties of the AAG scale and to validate its use to indicate vulnerability.  The study confirmed the factor structure of the scale and a new scoring system was created to calculate levels of vulnerability (See Fig. 2 below) (Sim, Machin and Bartlam 2014; Machin 2014).

Scoring the AAG

Based on the theoretical proposition that agreement with both the overwhelmed and the controlled items and disagreement with the resilient items is indicative of vulnerability, the following formula was applied to the scoring system.

Adding together O + C scores + reversed R scores = an Indication of Vulnerability    

Optimum cutoff scores were also identified on the scale, which runs from 0 – 36, for the classification of different levels of vulnerability.

Severe            24>

High                21-23

Low                 20<

5 by 3 09.02.00.png
Fig.2. The category groupings of the RRL used to calculate an indication of vulnerability.

See Working with the AAG in practice’ page for the practice protocol.

To download the AAG scale go to the Resources page.


Machin, L. (2001) Exploring a framework for understanding the range of response to loss; a study of clients receiving bereavement counselling. Unpublished PhD thesis: Keele University, UK.

Machin, L. and Spall, R. (2004) ‘Mapping Grief: a study in practice using a quantitative and qualitative approach to exploring and addressing the range of response to loss’. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research. Vol 4 No 1, 9-17.

Machin, L. (2007) ‘The Adult Attitude to Grief Scale as a Tool of Practice for Counsellors Working with Bereaved People’. A study report sponsored by Age Concern, Tameside and Keele University.

Machin, L. (2009; 2014) Working with Loss and Grief.  London: Sage.

Sim, J., Machin, L. and Bartlam, B. (2014) ‘Identifying vulnerability in grief: psychometric properties of the Adult Attitude to Grief scale’, Quality of Life Research. Vol.23. 1211-1220.