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(Melchers + 2015)

Assessment of empathy via self-report and behavioural paradigms: data on convergent and discriminant validity.

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Abstract
Research on empathy has a long tradition in clinical research, as deficits in empathy have been found in many mental disorders. Over decades, a large amount of measures for empathy have been developed, but in many cases these have not been analysed with respect to validity. Therefore, this paper aims to relate various assessment methods for empathy, schizotypy and autistic traits to gain knowledge on their convergent and discriminant validity.

METHODS:
A total of N = 108 participants were tested with two of the most widespread empathy questionnaires
  •  (Interpersonal Reactivity Index,
  •  Empathy Quotient), 
two behavioural paradigms
  • (Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, 
  • Cambridge Face-Voice Battery) 
  • and a rotation task.
 Furthermore, questionnaires assessing schizotypal and autistic traits were administered.

RESULTS:
Results indicate convergent validity of the applied empathy self-report measures, although their association with measures of schizotypal and autistic traits is inconsistent. However, results of the behavioural testing barely correlate either with the self-report measures or among each other.

CONCLUSIONS:
The questionnaire measures of empathy seem valid and exchangeable, and therefore suitable for capturing self-reported empathy in clinical research. The behavioural paradigms cover distinct endophenotypes of empathy and should only be used for very specific research questions.



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