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Gunnar Borg

Professor emeritus

Most of my time I devote to research and applications in psychology, medicine, sports, ergonomics and human factors.


The research deals with theories, methods and experiments in perception and psychophysics, and psychophysiology. New methods are developed to determine the magnitude of an experience from simple sensations to more complex experiences such as subjective somatic symptoms, emotions and perceptions of physical and mental difficulty.

The concept of perceived exertion was introduced half a century ago and an operational definition presented with methods to measure different aspects of perceived effort, strain and fatigue. One very common method is the RPE-Scale for "Ratings of Perceived Exertion" ("the Borg Scale") officially now: the "Borg RPE Scale®". Stevens' "Ratio (R) scaling methods for determinations of S-R-functions have been improved in order not only to obtain relative functions but also direct ("absolute") levels of intensity. This was done by placing verbal anchors, from simple category (C) scales (rank order scales) such as "very weak", "moderate", "strong" etc at the best possible position on a ratio scale, a "CR-scale", covering the total subjective dynamic range, so that a congruence in meaning was obtained between the numbers and the anchors.

Psychophysical scaling methods are also used in quantitative semantics, in order to estimate "interpretation" and "preciseness" of words, e.g. adjectives and adverbs. A related problem of epistemological interest concerns intersubjectivity and the possibility to make valid interindividual and intermodal comparisons. "Borg's Range Model" is then used, according to which a schematized conception (e.g. of a maximal perceived exertion) is used, and at the end of the total dynamic range set interindividually "equal" (similar) for proximal stimulations.

The first CR-Scale constructed in the 1970s is the ten-graded "Borg CR10 Scale®" with ten as the main intersubjectively valid anchor. The scale gives possibilities to use numbers above ten, and also to use decimals. It is a general scale for different kinds of experiences. A more fine-graded CR-Scale is the "Borg CR100 Scale®" (also called the "centiMax Scale") constructed by G. Borg together with the daughter Elisabet Borg, PhD and senior lecturer, Stockholm University. This scale has a great potential for most psychophysical and psychophysiological determinations.

A current research project together with some specialists in medicine (prof. K. Larsson, Karolinska Inst. head of the project) concern studies of breathlessness and dyspnea, leg fatigue and chest pain in healthy people and patients with COPD. CR-scaling is then used for determinations of the magnitudes of these symptoms during ergometer tests, how they change during the test and their quantitative interrelations. The purpose is to obtain an improved tool in clinical diagnostics and rehabilitation.

A simple home test of aerobic capacity has been constructed. The test is carried out by having persons run or walk a certain distance about 800m (or half a mile) submaximally two times with different speed controlled by themselves subjectively. No special apparatuses are needed except a watch. The test is a good alternative to the six minute walk test.

Applications of "Borg Scales" and "Borg Perception"

The research in scaling has resulted in an unusually great amount of world-wide applications of "Borg Scales". The Borg RPE Scale® for measuring overall perceived exertion, including breathlessness and muscle fatigue, is thus used by millions of people in very many countries all over the world. This is true in clinical work test, rehabilitation and exercise prescription of many different groups of patients (See Pedersén and Saltin, 2006,; in sports for all and training of athletes according to different programs for monitoring exercise intensity. The CR scales, e.g. the "Borg CR10 Scale®", are used more and more instead of the RPE-scale in clinical tests, and in training of muscular strength, "resistance training" (See Borg, 1998 and Buckley & Borg, 2010).


Borg, E. (2007). On Perceived Exertion and its Measurement. Doctoral dissertation. Department of Psychology, Stockholm University.

Borg, G. (1994). Psychophysical scaling: An overview. In: J. Boivie, P. Hansson, & U. Lindblom (Eds.), Touch, Temperature, and Pain in Health and Disease: Mechanisms and Assessments. Progress in Pain Research and Management, Vol. 3 (p. 27-39). Seattle, USA: IASP Press.

Borg, G. (1998). Borg's Perceived Exertion and Pain Scales. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. [Fulltext, with kind permission from Human Kinetics, PDF, ca 12 MB]

Borg, G. (2004). Principles in Scaling Pain and the Borg CR Scales®. Psychologica, 37, 35-47.

Borg, G., & Borg, E. (2001). A new generation of scaling methods: Level-anchored ratio scaling. Psychologica, 28, 15-45. [Full-text, PDF, with kind permission from Psychologica]

Borg, G., & Borg, E. (2008). Methods for measuring intensity of experience. The Borg CR Scales® Folder.

Borg's abstracts in the Annual Report database.

Awards and prizes

In 1998 I received the award by the International Association for Applied Psychology, "for exceptional contributions to the advancement of the science of psychology internationally".

The same year I was also honored with the Award for scientific contributions and applications in ergonomy by the Nordic Ergonomic Society.

During the 27th International Congress of Psychology, 2000, I was honored with a special symposium: "The Gunnar Borg Symposium on Psychophysical Scaling".

The same year, I was elected "Honorary Member" of the Swedish Society for Lung Medicine, and also honored by the Swedish Society of Sports Medicine.

In 2002 I was given a special Prize in Sport Sciences to a Swedish scientist.

During the autumn 2005 I gave a keynote lecture for the British Association for Cardiac Rehabilitation, a seminar for lung-doctors in London, an honorary lecture during the annual Swedish congress in medicine, 2006, a keynote presentation for Danish lung-doctors and a lecture for professors, doctor and master students in Vilnius, Lithuania for the International School for Advanced Methods in Biophysics, 2007.

In 2008 I was elected "Honorary Member" of the Swedish Society of Sports Medicine.

I am a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and several international associations.

In 2009 I was elected "Doctor honoris causa" in medicine at Umeå University, Sweden.

Press Release November 29, 2016: Dr. Gunnar Borg Recognized for Excellence in Research & Applications in Psychology, Medicine, Sports, Ergonomics and Human Factors. Marquis Who'sWho | 24-7 Press release.

Recommendations to use a "Borg Scale" is given by many professional societies, e.g. American Heart Association, American Thoracic Society, American College of Sports Medicine, British Association for Cardiac Rehabilitation

These scales can be obtained from the firm: "Borg Perception", Gunnar Borg, Rädisvägen 124, 165 73 Hässelby, Sweden. Phone 46-8-271426. E-mail:

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