Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

   Home    Conference   Magazine   Empathy Tent   Services    Newsletter   Facebook    Youtube   Contact   Search

Join the International Conference on: How Might We Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion?

Empathic Design
Empathy Circles

  Restorative Empathy Circles
Empathy Tent

Expert Interviews
Obama on Empathy


    Empathy Tests


Empathy Tests and Measurements
How can we measure and test empathy? Below are all the empathy tests that we have found so far.  If you know of others do send then to us.  What is needed in this area is a design project to design more measurements. If you're interested in creating such a team, let us know. See the beginnings of a new project to list all the empathy measures.

Empathy Questionnaires Table - Compiled by Jonathan Friesem
A handy table of different Empathy Questionnaires, located at the bottom of this page.

"Research into the measurement of empathy has sought to answer a number of questions: who should be carrying out the measurement? What should pass for empathy and what should be discounted? What unit of measure (UOM) should be adopted and to what degree should each occurrence precisely match that UOM are also key questions that researchers have sought to investigate.Researchers have approached the measurement of empathy from a number of perspectives."

Measuring Empathy -
'Psychologists distinguish between measurements of situational empathy—that is, empathic reactions in a specific situation—and measurements of dispositional empathy, where empathy is understood as a person's stable character trait. Situational empathy is measured either by asking subjects about their experiences immediately after they were exposed to a particular situation, by studying the “facial, gestural, and vocal indices of empathy-related responding. or by various physiological measures such as the measurement of heart rate or skin conductance. None of these measurements are perfect tools. '

'Empathic Civilization': Do We Have Empathy Or Are We Just Good Rule Followers?
As yet there is no fool-proof test of empathy, yet given its growing importance within cognitive neuroscience, it won't be long before there is one. The advent of functional neuroimaging is making it possible to see beneath surface behaviour, to establish if the typical neural circuitry for empathy is (or is not) being employed, when someone says they care.  Simon Baron-Cohen

A systematic review of tests of empathy in medicine 1
A systematic review of tests of empathy in medicine 2
'Empathy is frequently cited as an important attribute in physicians and some groups have expressed a desire to measure empathy either at selection for medical school or during medical (or postgraduate) training. In order to do this, a reliable and valid test of empathy is required. The purpose of this systematic review is to determine the reliability and validity of existing tests for the assessment of medical empathy.' 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.

The consultation and relational empathy (CARE) measure: development and preliminary validation and reliability of an empathy-based consultation process measure

"In this paper, we have reported the development and preliminary validation of a new process measure based
on a broad definition of clinical empathy, in the context of the clinical encounter. We have called this the CARE measure. The aim of this measure is to provide a tool for the evaluation of the quality of consultations in terms ofthe ‘human’ aspects of medical car
How was the doctor at.…

1. Making you feel at ease
2. Letting you tell your story
3. Really listening
4. Being interested in you as a whole person
5. Fully understanding your concerns
6. Showing care and compassion
7. Being positive
8. Explaining things clearly
9. Helping you to take control
10. Making a plan of action with you"

Dissociation of Cognitive & Emotional Empathy: Multifaceted Empathy Test for Children & Adolescents
Empathy, generally defined as the ability to understand and share another peronßs emotional state, is a multidimensional construct, consisting of cognitive (inferring mental states) and emotional (observer's emotional response to another person's emotional state ) components.  Both autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and conduct disorders (CD) have been described as disorders with empathy impairment. While most instruments assessing empathy focused rather on one component of empathy, the Multifaceted Empathy Test (MET) was designed to measure cognitive and emotional empathy simultaneously and independently using a series of photorealistic stimuli.'

The Davis Interpersonal Reactivity Index
'The Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1980, 1983) is a measure of dispositional empathy that takes as its starting point the notion that empathy consists of a set of separate but related constructs. The instrument contains four seven-item subscales, each tapping a separate facet of empathy. The perspective taking (PT) scale measures the reported tendency to spontaneously adopt the psychological point of view of others in everyday life ("I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective"). The empathic concern (EC) scale assesses the tendency to experience feelings of sympathy and compassion for unfortunate others ("I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me").  ' The following statements inquire about your thoughts and feelings in a variety of situations

1. I daydream and fantasize, with some regularity, about things that might happen to me.
2. I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.
3. I sometimes find it difficult to see things from the "other guy's" point of view.
4. Sometimes I don't feel very sorry for other people when they are having problems.

Toronto Empathy Questionnaire, by Nathan Spreng
"In order to formulate a parsimonious tool to assess empathy, we used factor analysis on a combination of self-report measures to examine consensus and developed a brief self-report measure of this common factor. The Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ) represents empathy as a primarily emotional process. In three studies, the TEQ demonstrated strong convergent validity, correlating positively with behavioral measures of social decoding, self-report measures of empathy, and negatively with a measure of Autism symptomatology. Moreover, it exhibited good internal consistency and high test-retest reliability. The TEQ is a brief, reliable, and valid instrument for the assessment of empathy."'
(has lists of other self-report measures of empathy

Emotion Specific Empathy Questionnaire,  by Sally Olderbak 
"Empathy refers to the thoughts and feelings of one individual in response to the observed (emotional) experiences of another individual. Empathy, however, can occur toward persons experiencing a variety of emotions, raising the question of whether or not empathy can be emotion specific. This paper discusses theoretical and empirical support for the emotion specificity of empathy. We present a new measure, the Emotion Specific Empathy questionnaire, which assesses affective and cognitive empathy for the six basic emotions. This paper presents the measure's psychometric qualities and demonstrates, through a series of models, the discriminant validity between emotion specific empathies suggesting empathy is emotion specific. Results and implications are discussed."

2004-04 The Empathy Quotient: An Investigation of Adults with Asperger Syndrome or High Functioning Autism, and Normal Sex Differences
Simon Baron-Cohen and Sally Wheelwright
"Empathy is an essential part of normal social functioning, yet there are precious few instruments for measuring individual differences in this domain. In this article we review psychological theories of empathy and its measurement. Previous instruments that purport to measure this have not always focused purely on empathy. We report a new self-report questionnaire, the Empathy Quotient (EQ), for use with adults of normal intelligence. It contains 40 empathy items and 20 filler/control items. "

Development and validation of the Basic Empathy Scale
'In developing the Basic Empathy Scale (BES), 40 items measuring affective and cognitive empathy were administered to 363 adolescents in Year 10 (aged about 15). Factor analysis reduced this to a 20-item scale that was administered 1 year later to 357 different adolescents in Year 10 in the same schools. Confirmatory factor analysis verified the two-factor solution. Females scored higher than males on both affective and cognitive empathy'

Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy,
A 20-item questionnaire measuring components of empathy among physicians in patient-care setting. The Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE) was developed by researchers at the Center for Research in Medical Education and Health Care (CRMEHC) at Jefferson Medical College to measure empathy among physicians, health professionals and medical students.
Article as PDF with 20 questions (98 KB)

  1.  I try to imagine myself in my patients’ shoes when providing care to them.

  2.  My understanding of my patients’ feelings gives them a sense of validation that is therapeutic in its own

  3. An important component of the relationship with my patients is my understanding of the emotional status
    of themselves and their familie

Jefferson Scale of Empathy

"Empathy in patient care…”a cognitive attribute that involves an ability to understand the patient’s experiences, pain, suffering, and perspective combined with a capability to communicate this understanding and an intention to help.”

The Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE) was developed by researchers at the Center for Research in Medical Education and Health Care at Sidney Kimmel Medical College to measure empathy in physicians and other health professionals (HP/Physician version), medical students (S-version), and health professional students (HPStudent version)"


Kagan Affective Sensitivity Scale

"Describes a scale developed to measure an individual's ability to detect and describe the immediate affective state of another (affective sensitivity or empathy). The scale consists of multiple-choice items used with a series of short videotaped excerpts from actual counseling sessions. Data are presented indicating the scale's reliability, the extent of the content, and the concurrent and predictive validity. The scale is unaffected by pre- or posttest practice effect. Indications are that high scores on the scale are a necessary but not a sufficient condition of counselor effectiveness. Some technical limitations are present in the scale, but it shows promise of being an appropriate model for a more refined instrument."


Hogan's empathy (EM) scale (Hogan 1969)

Defines empathy as ‘‘the intellectual or imaginative apprehension of another’s condition or state of mind (Hogan, 1969).’’ 64-item scale.


The Toronto Empathy Questionnaire
"Scale development and initial validation of a factor-analytic solution to multiple empathy measures. In order to formulate a parsimonious tool to assess empathy, we used factor analysis on a combination of self-report measures to examine consensus and developed a brief self-report measure of this common factor. The Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ) represents empathy as a primarily emotional process. In three studies, the TEQ demonstrated strong convergent validity, correlating positively with behavioral measures of social decoding, self-report measures of empathy, and negatively with a measure of Autism symptomatology. "


Balanced Emotional Empathy Test (BEES)
The Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale (BEES) measures both of the aforementioned components of Emotional Empathy (i.e., vicarious experience of others' feelings; interpersonal positiveness) in a balanced way. It is a completely new scale and is based on a substantial amount of research evidence derived with an earlier scale developed in my laboratory.

Self-Compassion Scales for researchers

"Accurate Empathy Scale - Truax
 (Expert from Carl Rogers
 Empathic: An Unappreciated Way of Being)

Then there is the Accurate Empathy Scale, devised by Truax and others for use by raters (Truax, 1967). Even small portions of recorded interviews can be reliably rated by this scale. The nature of the scale may be indicated by giving the definition of Stage 1, which is the lowest level of empathic understanding, and Stage 8, which is a very high (though not the highest) degree of empathy.

Here is Stage 1: Therapist seems completely unaware of even the most conspicuous of the client's feelings. His responses are not appropriate to the mood and content of the client's feelings. His responses are not appropriate to the mood and content of the client's statements and there is no determinable quality of empathy, hence, no accuracy whatsoever. The therapist may be bored and disinterested or actively offering advice, but he is not communicating an awareness of the client's current feelings (Truax, 1967, pp. 556-7).

Stage 8 is defined as follows: Therapist accurately interprets all the client's present acknowledged feelings. He also uncovers the most deeply shrouded of the client's feeling areas, voicing meanings in the client's experience of which the client is scarcely aware ... He moves into feelings and experiences that are only hinted at by the client and does so with sensitivity and accuracy. The content that comes to life may be new but it is not alien. While the therapist in Stage 8 makes mistakes, mistakes do not have a jarring note but are covered by the tentative character of the response. Also the therapist is sensitive to his mistakes and quickly alters or changes his responses in midstream, indicating that he more clearly knows what is being talked about and what is being sought after in the client's own explorations. The therapist reflects a togetherness with the patient in tentative trial and error exploration. His voice tone reflects the seriousness and depth of his empathic grasp. (Truax,1967, p. 566)."


by Dustin K MacDonald

"Level 1: Low Level of Empathic Responding

  • Communicating little or no awareness or understanding of the caller’s feelings

  • Responses are irrelevant or abrasive

  • Changing the subject, giving advice, etc.

Level 2: Moderately Low Level of Empathic Responding

  • Responding to the surface message of the caller but omitting feelings or factual aspects of the message.

  • Inappropriately qualifying feelings (e.g.,“somewhat,” “a little bit,”“kind of”)

  • Inaccurately interpreting feelings (e.g., “angry”for “hurt,”“tense”for “scared”).

  • Level 2 responses are only partially accurate, but they show an effort to understand

Level 3: Interchangeable or Reciprocal Level of Empathic Responding

  • Verbal and nonverbal responses at level 3 show understanding and are essentially interchangeable with the client’s obvious expressions, accurately reflecting the client’s story and surface feelings or state of being

Level 4: Moderately High Level of Empathic Responding

  • Somewhat additive, accurately identifying the client’s implicit underlying feelings and/or aspects of the problem.

  • Volunteer’s response illuminates subtle or veiled facets of the client’s message, enabling the client to get in touch with somewhat deeper feelings and unexplored meanings and purposes of behavior.

  • Level 4 responses thus are aimed at enhancing self-awareness.

Level 5: High Level of Empathic Responding

  • Reflecting each emotional nuance, and using voice and intensity of expressions finely attuned to the client’s moment-by-moment experiencing, the volunteer accurately responds to the full range and intensity of both surface and underlying feelings and meanings

  • Volunteer may connect current feelings and experiencing to previously expressed experiences or feelings, or may accurately identify implicit patterns, themes, or purposes.

  • Responses may also identify implicit goals embodied in the client’s message, which point out a promising direction for personal growth and pave the way for action.

  • Responding empathically at this high level facilitates the client’s exploration of feelings and problems in much greater breadth and depth than responding at lower level"

Also see (Empathic Understanding, C.H Patterson)


 The more experienced the therapist, the more likely they are empathic.
    (Expert from Carl Rogers
 Empathic: An Unappreciated Way of Being)

"Experienced therapists offer a higher degree of empathy to their clients than less experienced, whether we are assessing this quality through the client's perception or through the ears of qualified judges (Barrett- Lennard, 1962; Fiedler, 1949, 1950a; Mullen and Abeles, 1972). Evidently therapists do learn, as the years go by, to come closer to their ideal of a therapist, and to be more sensitively understanding."


The degree of empathy which exists and will exist in the relationship can be determined very early, in the fifth or even the second interview. Such early measurements are predictive of the later success or lack of success in therapy (Barrett-Lennard, 1962; Tausch, 1973). The implication of these findings is that we could avoid a great deal of unsuccessful therapy, by measuring the therapist's empathy early on."


"Barrett-Lennard Relationship Inventory
(Expert from Carl Rogers
 Empathic: An Unappreciated Way of Being)
There is the Barrett-Lennard Relationship Inventory, to be filled out by the parties to the relationship, in which empathy is defined operationally by the items used. Some of the items from this instrument, indicating the range from empathic to non-empathic, follow:

  • He appreciates what my experience feels like to me.

  • He understands what I say from a detached, objective point of view.

  • He understands my words but not the way I feel."

Others can tell us if they have felt heard and empathized with.
(Expert from Carl Rogers
 Empathic: An Unappreciated Way of Being)

"Clients are better judges of the degree of empathy than are therapists.
Perhaps then it is not too surprising that therapists prove to be rather inaccurate in assessing their own degree of empathy in a relationship. The client's perception of this quality agrees rather well with that of unbiased judges listening to the recordings, but the agreement between clients and therapists, or judges and therapists, is low (Rogers, Gendlin, Kiesier and Truax, 1967, Chs. 5, 8). Perhaps, if we wish to become better therapists, we should let our clients tell us whether we are understanding them accurately!"


Empathy Quotient
"The Empathy Quotient (EQ) is a 60-item questionnaire (there is also a shorter, 40-item version) designed to measure empathy in adults. The test was developed by Simon Baron-Cohen at ARC (the Autism Research Centre) at the University of Cambridge."

The Empathy Quotient (EQ)
"The Empathy Quotient is intended to measure how easily you pick up on other people's feelings and how strongly you are affected by other people's feelings. Please read each of the 60 following statements very carefully and rate how strongly you agree or disagree with them by circling your answer. There are no right or wrong answers, or trick questions.

How to take the test 
1. Print out this page and circle your answers. 
2. Work out your EQ score using the points system explained at the bottom of this page."


Kiersma-Chen Empathy Scale
 (KCES Kiersma, M. E., Chen, M. H., Yehle, K. S., & Plake, K. S. . (2013). Validation of an empathy scale in pharmacy and nursing students. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 77(5), 94-99.

Cultural Empathetic Concern Scale (CECS)




Reflective Empathic Listening Test

We do a process called empathy circles. In this process, one person (John) shares a story, experience, feeling, etc with someone else (Jane).  Jane reflects back what she hears John say. John says if he feels he has been heard or not. This validation is a test of empathy.  Does the person feel they have been empathized with and really heard.

Reading Emotions Tests

Take the empathy test - Greater Good Science Center
 'Facial expressions are a universal language of emotion, instantly conveying happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and much more. Reading these expressions is essential to compassion and empathy.

Take this short quiz to measure your emotional intelligence. '
Cognisess: The Emotion Test
'The Comprehensive Emotion Test will give you the most accurate and complete analysis of your ability to recognize emotions in others. It only takes about 30 minutes to complete, and it has 80 questions.'

'The Quick Emotion Test is designed for those who are pressed for time. It takes about 8 minutes to complete, and it has 20 questions'

Assessing EQ: Measuring your empathy
Emotional intelligence (empathy) is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another person. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion.

Online Test: Reading Peoples Expressions from
"Test how well you can read emotions of others just by looking at their eyes. The ability to read the emotions of others is linked to "social intelligence" which, in turn, is linked to performance on team-based problem solving tasks.

Quick Guide - Emotion Test
Welcome to the quick guide to the Emotion Test. The Emotion Test is part of the Global Cognitive Empathy Study. Take part today - go to


Reading the mind in the eyes (NY Times)


'For each pair of eyes, choose which word best describes what the person in the picture is thinking or feeling.

When you've answered all the questions, press the 'Get score' button at the bottom to see your results.'


Reading the mind in the eyes

For each set of eyes, choose which word best describes that the person is thinking or feeling.


DVD Mind Reading demo

'Mind Reading is a unique reference work covering the entire spectrum of human emotions. Using the software you can explore over 400 emotions, seeing and hearing each one performed by six different people.'

  • View Shockwave Demo

    • Emotions Library:

    • Learning Center:

    • Game: Try out the game to identify the emotions

Measurement of Affective Empathy with Pictorial Empathy Test (PET)  (measurem.pdf)
"Pictorial Empathy Test (PET) consists of 7 pictures of people in distress. Subjects were asked to rate their emotional arousal in a five-point scale. It was hypothesized that seven pictures all showed variance in one latent trait, affective empathy. The fit of one-latent-factor model was assessed using structural equation modeling. PET s validity was assessed with tests of other theoretically related and unrelated concepts, such as self-reported empathy, social intelligence, intuitive thinking and gender role orientation. Correlations between PET scores and other scales were assessed to determine the validity of PET. Also, relationships between PET scores, participants sex and gender role orientation were analyzed using mediation analysis. "

Reading the Mind in the Voice
More at autism research centre


Yawning test

Tracing the Origins of Human Empathy


In a group of people, if one person yawns, the first person to catch the yawn would be the most empathic.

A recent report from The Wall Street Journal’s Science Journal columnist Robert Lee Hotz, on empathy in primates and other animals (”Tracing the Origins of Human Empathy”).
(Yawning, mirroring, Frans de Wal, Kevin Ochsner, brain studies, mirror neurons, identifying with certain close groups)

Contagious Yawning Empathy Test

It has long been known that yawning is contagious among humans. Scientific studies have started to link contagious yawning with the emotional response known as empathy. Try watching this short video and count how many times you yawn.

Test your empathy, with the yawn Test! 


The Yawn-O-Meter (How Long Can You Last?)
Why Do We Yawn?

Why is yawning contagious?

Video: Yaaawwwwwn* Did just reading the word make you feel like yawning yourself? Known as contagious yawning, the reasons behind this phenomenon have been attributed to both the physiological and psychological. It's been observed in children as young as four and even in dogs! Claudia Aguirre visits the many intriguing theories that might explain contagious yawning.

Why Do We Yawn?



E for Empathy

Writing the E for Empathy on your Forehead test
Ask someone to draw a a capital E on their forehead. Do they write it so they can see it our so that others can see it?

Draw the Letter E on our forehead test
Then ask him to take that extended finger and draw a capital E on his forehead. Does he draw the letter so that it faces him – that is, backward to a person looking at him? Or does he draw the letter so that the viewer can read it? Neither way is right or wrong. But the direction of that letter might tell you something about the disposition of that leader.  [the more empathic person draws it so others can read it]


Self-rating & Self Assessment Tests

Empathy Quiz at Greater Good
"The quiz contains a total of 28 questions. Please answer them as honestly as possible--there are no right or wrong answers. The first 22 will be used to measure your level of empathy; the last six will be used by our research team to understand how empathy relates to factors like gender, birth order, and political orientation. "

Empathy Quotient Test by Simon Baron-Cohen
Empathy Quotient Test by Simon Baron-Cohen | Empathy and Compassion | 'Read each of the following 60 statements very carefully and state how strongly you agree or disagree with it. When you've answered all the questions, press the 'Get score' button at the bottom to see your results. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen test'


This is an combined version of Baron-Cohen's Empathizing Quotient (EQ) and Systemizing Quotient (SQ) tests.
"The Empathizing–systemizing theory was developed by Simon Baron-Cohen and holds that different individuals have a biologically determined inclination towards a brain structure optimized to either use "empathizing" or "systemizing" as its primary mode of interacting with the world. "

Science of Empathy
'Autism expert Professor Simon Baron-Cohen reveals the science behind "the world's most valuable resource" – and how its lack is the root of human cruelty'
See how you fare in our empathy test

The University of Michigan test - American college students test

Changes in Dispositional Empathy in American College Students Over Time: A Meta-Analysis
Personality and Social Psychology Review  Sara H. Konrath, Edward H. O'Brien, Courtney Hsing "The current study examines changes over time in a commonly used measure of dispositional empathy. A cross-temporal meta-analysis was conducted on 72 samples of American college students who completed at least one of the four subscales (Empathic Concern, Perspective Taking, Fantasy, and Personal Distress) of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index between 1979 and 2009"

Social perspective taking: A multidimensional approach
HGSE Assistant Professor Hunter Gehlbach
Gehlbach and HGSE doctoral students Maureen Brinkworth, Ming-Te Wang, and Christopher Wynne have developed a test to measure perspective taking ability – and they invite
you to try it. Watch this video of a conversation between Gehlbach and Brinkworth, and then answer the short list of yes-or-no questions below. Then click the submit button, and find out how skillfully you can recognize the feelings that underlie other people's words, gestures, and expressions.

Qualtrics Survey
'Please answer ALL of the questions below and when you are done, you will see a screen with your score on it. You will learn how you compare to almost 14,000 college students on empathy. '

Empathy quotient test
Read each of the following 60 statements very carefully and state how strongly you agree or disagree with it. When you've answered all the questions, press the 'Get score' button at the bottom to see your results.

Systemizing quotient test
Read each of the following 60 statements very carefully and state how strongly you agree or disagree with it. When you've answered all the questions, press the 'Get score' button at the bottom to see your results.


Autism Spectrum quotient test
Read each of the following 50 statements very carefully and state how strongly you agree or disagree with it.

Levels of Empathy
'Empathy can be difficult to measure, so an "empathy scale" is often used by psychologists to characterize degrees of empathy during our verbal exchanges with others.

Level 1: Tuned Out
Level 2: Reptilian or Pretend Listening
Level 3: Connection
Level 3: Advanced Level'



Empathy test

'The following test measures one's empathy level. Empathy is the ability to feel and comprehend other people's emotions. An empathic person performs an active effort to get in tune with another person, leaving out personal aptitudes such as sympathy, antipathy, fondness and moral judgments.'


Test how self-compassionate you are
'Please read each statement carefully before answering. To the left of each item, indicate how often you behave in the stated manner, using the following scale'


Are you an Empath? Take the test and find out!
'This test scores you on several categories, including: whether you are an Out of Control Healer, how well you use your own Empathic Protection Tools, how much you Unconsciously Mirror other people, and how Logical vs Intuitive you are. '


What’s your EQ (empathy quotient)?  pdf
'This quiz, adapted from a common psychological test of empathy, gauges two key empathy types: concern for others and perspective (the ability to imagine someone’s point of view). For each question, pick a number from 1 to 5, then tally your scores.'


Self-Assessment 3.10: Assessing Your Emotional Empathy
"The source of this scale is: M. H. Davis, "A multidimensional approach to individual differences in empathy," JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology, 10 (1980), p. 85.
This self-assessment is designed to help you to estimate your propensity for emotional empathy. It includes 7 statements, and you are asked to indicate the degree to which each statement does or does not describe you very well. You need to be honest with yourself to for a reasonable estimate of your level of perspective taking."

The parental empathy measure: a new approach to assessing child maltreatment risk. Kilpatrick
"A new operational definition of parental empathy and a new instrument, the Parental Empathy Measure (PEM), are introduced. With a sample of 103 parents (50 registered maltreating, 32 matched distressed, and 21 matched controls), the PEM demonstrated good internal consistency, very good interrater reliability, good construct validity, and very good concurrent validity."

Davis, M. H. (1980). A multidimensional approach to individual differences in empathy.
JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology, 10, 85.

Second Person  Assessment Test

"Clients are better judges of the degree of empathy than are therapists.
 (Expert from Carl Rogers  Empathic: An Unappreciated Way of Being. This is related to therapists being bad judges of their quality and degree of empathy. This could be applied to anyone)

Perhaps then it is not too surprising that therapists prove to be rather inaccurate in assessing their own degree of empathy in a relationship. The client's perception of this quality agrees rather well with that of unbiased judges listening to the recordings, but the agreement between clients and therapists, or judges and therapists, is low (Rogers, Gendlin, Kiesier and Truax, 1967, Chs. 5, 8). Perhaps, if we wish to become better therapists, we should let our clients tell us whether we are understanding them accurately!"


  Ask others to Assess You


Observer rating (third person assessment)

Development of the Therapist Empathy Scale.

"BACKGROUND: Few measures exist to examine therapist empathy as it occurs in session.

: A 9-item observer rating scale, called the Therapist Empathy Scale (TES), was developed based on Watson's (1999) work to assess affective, cognitive, attitudinal, and attunement aspects of therapist empathy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the inter-rater reliability, internal consistency, and construct and criterion validity of the TES.

Raters evaluated therapist empathy in 315 client sessions conducted by 91 therapists, using data from a multi-site therapist training trial (Martino et al., 2010) in Motivational Interviewing (MI).

The TES demonstrates excellent inter-rater reliability and internal consistency. RESULTS indicate some support for a single-factor solution and convergent and discriminant validity. Future studies should examine the use of the TES to evaluate therapist empathy in different psychotherapy approaches and to determine the impact of therapist empathy on client outcome."


Peer Rating
Carl Rogers mentions a rating of therapists empathy by a panel of 83 other therapists. I don't know what the criteria they used was. Mentioned in Empathic: An Unappreciated Way of Being

"Raskin (1974) showed that when the recorded interviews of six experienced therapists were rated by other experienced therapists, the differences on twelve variables were significant at the .001 level, and empathy was second in the extent of difference. The outstanding characteristic of the client- centered therapist was his empathy. Other approaches had as their outstanding characteristic their cognitive quality, or therapist-directedness, and the like. So, though therapists regarded empathic listening as the most important element in their ideal, in their actual practice they often fall far short of this. In fact the ratings of the recorded interviews of these six expert therapists by 83 other therapists came up with a surprising finding. In only two cases did the work of the experts correlate positively with the description of the ideal therapist. In four cases the correlation was negative, the most extreme being a -.66! So much for therapy as it is practiced!"


Measure of Expressed Empathy - Meichenbaum

"Thinking back to the demonstration of Don Meichenbaum with Richard, please rate him on the following dimensions from 'never' to 'all of the time':

1. * Does the therapist’s voice convey concern? ( ) Never  ( ) 25% ( )  Half of the Time  ( ) 75%  ( ) All the Time "
etc. to 7.

Measuring Bodily Functions, Chemicals, etc


Carl Marci Measurements

Physiology and Neurobiology of Empathy
Dr. Carl Marci will discuss aspects of empathic connection using the latest findings from his research with peripheral measures of central nervous system activity.  Additional studies using neuroimaging to understand the latest in empathy research will also be presented.

The Look of Love - Love's many splendors begin with empathy and attachment

Video: Carl Marci discusses "Neurobiology and Physiology of Empathy"


Carl D. Marci, MD, Director of Social Neuroscience for Psychotherapy Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital; Instructor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School


Measuring Oxytocin Levels


Oxytocin Enhances Amygdala-Dependent, Socially Reinforced Learning and Emotional Empathy in Humans
Oxytocin (OT) is becoming increasingly established as a prosocial neuropeptide in humans with therapeutic potential in treatment of social, cognitive, and mood disorders. However, the potential of OT as a general facilitator of human learning and empathy is unclear. ...A general conclusion from our results is that treatment with an OTR agonist may be a useful therapy in enhancing socially motivated learning and emotional empathy in men. '


Measuring Testosterone Levels

Extra Testosterone and Reduced Empathy

 A new study for the first time has provided hard data on how administering testosterone under the tongue (sublingually) negatively affects an important marker for empathy.

2D:4D ratio. finger Ratio
Digit ratio - Wikipedia
Hand with index finger being shorter than the ring finger, resulting in a small 2D:4D ratio, pointing to a high exposure to testosterone in the uterus.

Genetic Markers for Oxytocin Receptors

Telltale Signs You’ve Got the ‘Love Hormone’ Gene?
Research has shown that people with two G variants of the gene are more empathetic and “prosocial,” showing more compassion, cooperation and positive emotion. In contrast, those with the at least one A version of the gene tend to be less empathetic, may have worse mental health and are more likely to be autistic.




Side by side image scan of two people. One person does an action, how close is that mirrored in the other persons brain activity as measured by fMRI?

Empathy with Christian Keysers on BBC
Christian Keysers explains how empathy can be measured using fMRI. From the TV series 'The Brain: A secret history


Mirror Neurons fMRI

 Mirror neurons also seem to be involved in empathy, a much more complex and ambiguous aspect of observing others. This idea has prompted a great deal of excitement and speculation, as some look to empathy as one of the most fundamental and unique things that make us human.

 Empathy describes our ability to understand and feel another's emtions as our own, giving rise to such sayings as 'I feel your pain.' As we will see, this is not just a figure of speech, but appears to have a basis in neural physiology.


Self-Empathy & Self-Compassion Tests

Kristin Neff - Test
 'Please read each statement carefully before answering. To the left of each item, indicate how often you behave in the stated manner, using the following scale:
  ( ) 1. I'm disapproving and judgmental about my own flaws and inadequacies.
   ...( ) 26'

The Development and Validation of a Scale to Measure Self-Compassion PDF
'This article defines the construct of self-compassion and describes the development
of the Self-Compassion Scale. Self-compassion entails being kind and understanding
toward oneself in instances of pain or failure rather than being harshly self-critical;
perceiving one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience rather than
seeing them as isolating; and holding painful thoughts and feelings in mindful
awareness rather than over-identifying with them'




Voight-Kampff Empathy Test

 'The Voight-Kampff test attempts to distinguish androids from human beings by autonomic responses to questions that should elicit an empathic response. Because it seeks to gather and measure biological information for security purposes, the empathy testing procedure is a kind of biometric identification system.'

Video: Blade Runner: Voight-Kampff
"Is this to be an empathy test? Capillary dilation of the so called blush response. Fluctuation of the pupil? Involuntary dilation of the iris?

We call it Voight-Kampff for short."

Video: Blade Runner - Deckard Meets Rachel Pt 2 (Voight-Kampf Test)

Video: Blade Runner VK Test on Leon
"I'm going to ask you a series of questions, just relax and answer them as simply as you can. It's your birthday, someone gives you a cat skin wallet?

I wouldn't except it. Also, I'd report the person that gave it to me to the police."



Empathy Questionnaires Table - Compiled by Jonathan Friesem



E Items







Empathy ability,

Dymond, 1949

53 Social Psychology students


(4 x 6)


5 p. scale






Watson (1938)
Murphy (1937)

Hoskins (1946)

Social Psychology

Journal of Consulting Psychology


CPI Q-sort,

Block, 1961




(True or False)



Capacity for Status, Sociability,

Social Presence,


 Sense of Well-Being

Lewin (1943)
(Gough, 1960),




personality assessment and psychiatric research


The Empathy Scale,

Hogan, 1969

70 medical School applicants

51 female college seniors

121 Junior high school students

100 military officers

92 Prisoners



5 p. scale


social self-confidence,

even-temperedness, sensitivity, nonconformity

Cottrell & Dymond (1949)

Mead (1934)
Gough (1948)
Sarbin (1968)

Moral Development (Cog)

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology


EETS - Emotional Empathy Tendency Scale,

Mehrabian & Epstein, 1972

91 psychology Undergraduates students (University of California)


-4 to 4

9 p. scale


 Susceptibility to Emotional Contagion,

Appreciation of the Feelings of Unfamiliar and Distant Others

 Extreme, Emotional Responsiveness,

Tendency to be Moved By Others' Positive Emotional Experiences,

Tendency to be Moved By Others' Negative Emotional Experiences ,

Sympathetic Tendency,

Willingness to be in Contact with Others Who Have Problems

Dymond (1949), Stotland (1969),


Journal of Personality


IRI - Interpersonal Reactivity Index,

Davis, 1980

579 psychology undergraduate (University of Texas)




5 p. scale


Perspective taking,


Empathic concern,

Personal distress

Mead (1934), Piaget (1932),

Dymond (1949)

Hoffman, (1976)

Social psychology

JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology


Index of empathy for children and adolescents,

Bryant, 1982

258 studetns

56 1st Graders

115 4th Gragers

87 7th Graders


-4 to 4

9 p. Scale

In the second experiment

Yes – No

2 p. scale


Social desirability,

Child empathy

Adult empathy



Aderman & berkowitz (1970),

Stotland (1969)

Broke (1971)
Dymond (1949)

Rogers & Truax (1967)

Chandler (1974)


Child Development


BEES – Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale,

Merabian, 1997

101 undergraduate


-4 to +4

9 p. scale


vicarious experience of others' feelings; interpersonal positiveness

Dymond (1949),

Stotland (1969),

Social Psychology

Aggressive Behavior


The Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy,

Hojat et al., 2001

Group 1: 55 physicians

Group 2: 41 internal medicine residents

Group 3: 193 third-year medical students


7-point from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree)








Personal Growth,




Clinical Neutrality

Blumgart, 1964

Carl Rogers, 1959 Nightingale, Yarnold, & Greenberg, 1991



Educational & Psychological Measurement



Wheelwright, 2004

90 adults

(65 males, 25 females) with Asperger Syndrome and or high-functioning autism

 90 (65 males, 25 females) age-matched controls general population



40 real

20 filters


1 strongly agree –

4 Strongly disagree

4 p. scale



Piaget, 1932;

Chapin,1942; Dymond,1950;

Kerr & Speroff, 1954


Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders


The Toronto empathy questionnaire,

Spreng,  McKinnon, Mar & Levine, 2009

200 psychology students undergraduates University of Toronto



never, rarely, sometimes, often, always


emotional contagion,

emotion comprehension,

sympathetic physiological arousal,

con-specific altruism

Titchener (1909)

Mead (1934)

Wisp`e (1986)

Preston &

de Waal (2002)

Eisenberg & Miller (1987)

Lipps (1903)

Haxby, Hoffman, & Gobbini (2000)

Levenson & Ruef (1992)

Rice (1964)



Journal of Personality Assessment