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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Measuring empathy: reliability and validity of the Empathy Quotient.

BACKGROUND: Empathy plays a key role in social understanding, but its empirical measurement has proved difficult. The Empathy Quotient (EQ) is a self-report scale designed to do just that. This series of four studies examined the reliability and validity of the EQ and determined its factor structure. METHOD: In Study 1, 53 people completed the EQ, Social Desirability Scale (SDS) and a non-verbal mental state inference test, the Eyes Task. In Study 2, a principal components analysis (PCA) was conducted on data from 110 healthy individuals and 62 people reporting depersonalisation ( DPD). Approximately 1 year later, Study 3, involved the re-administration of the EQ (n = 24) along with the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI; n = 28). In the last study, the EQ scores of those with DPD, a condition that includes a subjective lack of empathy, were examined in depth. RESULTS: An association was found between the Eyes task and EQ, and only three EQ items correlated with the SDS. PCA revealed three factors: (1) 'cognitive empathy'; (2) 'emotional reactivity', and (3) 'social skills'. Test-retest reliability was good and moderate associations were found between the EQ and IRI subscales, suggesting concurrent validity. People with DPD did not show a global empathy deficit, but reported less social competence. CONCLUSIONS: The EQ is a valid, reliable scale and the different subscales may have clinical applications.[1]


  1. Measuring empathy: reliability and validity of the Empathy Quotient. Lawrence, E.J., Shaw, P., Baker, D., Baron-Cohen, S., David, A.S. Psychological medicine. (2004) [Pubmed]
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