Tests and Measures of  Empathy.

Types of Measurement
  • Self-report measures of empathy
    • people rate their own level of empathy.
  • Using observation to measure empathy. i.e. observers rate someones empathy.
  • Physiological measures of empathy
    •  skin conductance
    • heart rate
    • coding of facial expressions
    • brain imaging fMRI

"Numerous instruments purporting to measure empathy have been developed, but there is little agreement among researchers on exactly what should be measured and how it should be measured. Each of the measurement approaches stem from a different view of empathy as a concept.  Instruments are categorised as 
  • self-report, 
  • client observer measures, 
  • peer judgment or
  •  independent observer judgment." (BRINK 1991)

"Empathy may be measured from three different perspectives:

  • Self-rating (first person assessment) – the assessment of empathy using standardised questionnaires completed by those being assessed.

  • Patient-rating (second person assessment) – the use of questionnaires given to patients to assess the empathy they experience among their carers.

  • Observer rating (third person assessment) – the use of standardised assessments by an observer to rate empathy in interactions between health personnel and patients, including the use of 'standardised' or simulated patient encounters to control for observed differences secondary to differences between patients." (HEMMERDINGER + 2007)

List of Measurements
  • ( ) Layton’s Empathy Test 
  • (x) LCS - Lovingkindness-Compassion Scale
  • ( ) Lennard (1962) Relationship Inventory
  • ( ) Emotional Empathy Scale (M.E.S.). Mehrabian (1972
  • (x) MET - Multifaceted Empathy Test
  • ( ) Neurobiology and Physiology of Empathy Test 
  • ( ) ODPT - Other Dyadic Perspective Taking scale 
  • (x) PCEPS - Person Centred and Experiential Psychotherapy Scale 
  • (x) PEERS - Peer Edmonton Empathy Recruitment Scale
  • (x) PES - Positive Empathy Measures 
  •  ( ) PIT - pain identification task 
  • (x) QAACEC - A Questionnaire to Assess Affective and Cognitive Empathy in Children
  • (x) QCAE - A Questionnaire of Cognitive and Affective Empathy
  • ( ) QMEE - Questionnaire Measure of Emotional Empathy (QMEE) (Mehrabian and Epstein, 1972)
  • (x) RCRS - Empathy construct rating scale 
  • ( ) RES -
  • (x) SPF(IRI) 2009
  • ( ) SDPT - Self Dyadic Perspective Taking scale
  • (x) SEI - Social Empathy Index
  • (x)  SELF-COMPASSION SCALE (Neff, 2003a) 
  • ( ) S(O)DPT - Self Dyadic Perspective Taking scale
  • (x) TEQ - Toronto Questionnaire 2009 
  • (x) TRUAX Accurate Empathy Scale (1961)
  • (x) TRUAX Accurate Empathy Scale (1963)
  • (x) VERA Victim Empathy Response Assessment 

Links to more Measures
  • Empathy Tests and Measurements -
  • (Albiero  2009) Albiero, P., Matricardi, G., Speltri, D., & Toso, D. (2009). The assessment of empathy in adolescence: A contribution to the Italian validation of the Basic Empathy Scale. Journal of Adolescence, 32, 393-408. 
  • (Jolliffe & Farrington  2006b)
    Jolliffe, D., & Farrington, D. P. (2006b). Development and validation of the Basic Empathy Scale. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 589-611.
  •  (Mehrabian  1997) Mehrabian, A. (1997). Relation among personality scales of aggression, violence, and empathy: Validational evidence bearing on the risk eruptive violence scale. Aggressive Behavior, 23, 433-445.
  • Campbell, R. J., Kagan, N., & Krathwohl, D. (1971). The development and validation of a scale to measure affective sensitivity (empathy). Journal of Counseling Psychology, 18, 407-412


How Empathetic Are You?
by Jeff Steen | Feb 22, 2018 

The Empathy Test
  • 1. How many times over the last week did you ask a coworker how they were doing?
  • 2. How many times over the last week did you ask your spouse about his/her day?
  • ..

  • (SPRENG +)
  • "53 unique empathy measures were identified in the 94 coded studies." (DEXTER 2012)* page 74
    1. ABRS = Attending Behaviors Rating Scale; 
    2. AES = Accurate Empathy Scale; 
    3. Alroy = Alroy Observation Schedule; 
    4. ASS = Affective Sensitivity Scale; 
    5. BC = Behavior Count; 
    6. BEES = Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale; 
    7. BLRI = Barrett-Lennard Relationship Inventory; 
    8. Cark AIF = Carkhuff Assessment of Interpersonal Functioning; 
    9. CIRS = Counselor Interview Rating Scalse; 
    10. CRQ = Counselor Response Questionnaire; 
    11. ECCS = Empathic Communication Coding System;
    12.  ECRS = Empathy Construct Rating Scale; 
    13. EM = Empathy Measure; 
    14. ET = Empathy Test; 
    15. ETS = Empathic Tendency Scale; 
    16. EU = Empathic Understanding in Interpersonal Processes Scale; 
    17. HRI = Helper Response Inventory; 
    18. Index Com = Index of Communication; 
    19. Index Disc = Index of Discrimination;
    20. IRI = Interpersonal Reactivity Index; 
    21. JSPE = Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy; 
    22. QMEE = Questionnaire Measure of Emotional Empathy; 
    23. REST = Rae Empathic Statement Test

""Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI):
28-item test, self-scored on 5-point scale. Sample item: “I would describe myself as a pretty soft-hearted person.”

Empathy Construct Rating Scale (ECRS):
100-item test, self-scored or used to rate another person on 6-point scale. Sample item: “Seems to understand another person's state of being.”

Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale (BEES):
30-item test, self-scored on 9-point scale. Sample item: “I cannot feel much sor for those who are responsible for their own misery.”

Accurate Empathy Scale (AES):
9 stages of empathy, defined using excerpts from psychotherapy transcripts, scored by trained observer. Sample stage: “Therapist accurately responds to all of the client's more readily discernible feelings. He also shows awareness of many less evident feelings and experiences, but he tends to be somewhat inaccurate in his understanding of these …“

History-taking Rating Scale (HRS):
5 items of this 16-item scale were used. Items scored by trained observer on a 4-point scale using specific criteria. Sample item: “Empathy: the student's expressed understanding of what the patient is feeling and communicating.”

Empathy, Spirituality, and Wellness in Medicine survey (ESWIM):
44-item test, self-scored on 5-point scale. Sample item: “I am a good listener.”"
 (STEPIEN + 2006)* Meta Study (13 Evaluated)  (healthcare) 

Report Categories

  • "The major criticism of self-report scales is that most depend on an intellectual self-appraisal of ability which may not be borne out behaviourally. To substantiate this criticism Kunst-Wilson and Associates (1981) can be cited. They found no agreement between selfreports of empathic ability and observer ratings of actual ability in their study on empathic ability and observer ratings of actual ability in their study on empathic perceptions of student nurses." (BRINK 1991)

Client Observer Measures

Peer Judgment

Independent Observer Judgment

Further Research 

Several reviews of instruments to measure empathy are provided in the literature 

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