One of the most memorable scenes in Mean Girls is when Regina George, after faking a derogatory entry about herself in the Burn Book, prints its pages through the halls of her high school. To her satisfaction, pure chaos follows.
This is the kind of behavior that psychologist Scott Frankowski is trying to understand by devising a new "need for drama" test with colleagues at the University of Texas at El Paso. Published earlier this year in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, the test officially defines a "need for drama" as a "compound personality trait in which individuals manipulate others from a position of perceived victimization."
The survey is designed to detect the level of Regina George-ness in anyone by asking those who take it how strongly they agree or disagree with statements like "I say or do things just to see how others react" and "I feel like there are people in my life who are out to get me." 500 participants volunteered to take part in the "need for drama" scale. The qualities that were most associated with a highly dramatic person are being impulsive, lacking a filter, and functioning on an "external locus of control," meaning always seeing yourself as the victim of circumstances. Although "dramatic," like its cousins "crazy" and "emotional," is often a gendered term attached to women, Frankowski's results showed men and women were equally likely to exhibit a need for drama.
<iframe src="//giphy.com/embed/AL1yzYEYuPKPC" width="480" height="270" frameBorder="0" class="giphy-embed" allowFullScreen></iframe><p><a href="http://giphy.com/gifs/drama-days-kristin-AL1yzYEYuPKPC">via GIPHY</a></p>
Frankowski tells Science of Us that this scale could be useful in bridging the gap in scientific literature by identifying a trait that's not as serious as a personality disorder but still a very real thing. It could help organizational psychologists in the workplace studying interpersonal relationships, for instance, or give insight to psychologists on social media behavior.
You can find out your own level of "need for drama" here.
This article was written Kristina Rodulfo and originally appeared on ELLE.COM