Empathy is a key notion in the study of sociality. A phenomenological perspective on empathy as intersubjective understanding offers a common ground for multiple dimensions. Corresponding to the dichotomy between perceptual and cognitive levels, two constructs can be distinguished: vicariously experiencing and intuitively understanding others' emotions. We developed and validated a new questionnaire for the assessment of individual differences in empathy. In a first study (N = 921), we created a questionnaire measuring empathy consisting of a pool of 75 items. Exploratory factor analysis suggested to retain two factors ("Intuitive Understanding" and "Vicarious Experience"), whereas a 30-item version of the questionnaire had satisfactory psychometric properties. In a second study (N = 504), we administered the 30-items questionnaire and several concurrent/divergent measures. Confirmatory factor analysis indicated that a two-factor structure best represented its latent factor structure. The results show that our questionnaire could be considered a reliable and valid measure of empathy with internal consistencies of 0.93 and 0.95 for Vicarious Experience and Intuitive Intuitive Understanding, respectively. Whereas our questionnaire mostly showed the expected convergence with existing scales of empathy, the correlations also suggest that it adds valuable new information to the assessment of empathy. The two-factor structure suggests that the perceptual (vicarious) experience and the basic (non-effortful) cognitive awareness of others' emotions can be assessed as distinct constructs. This bidimensional structure that distinguishes between the perceptual experience and the basic cognitive awareness of others' emotional states connects theoretical, empirical, and clinical data from psychology and neuroscience.

A bidimensional measure of empathy: Empathic experience scale

Ebisch S. J.
;
Saggino A.
2019

Abstract

Empathy is a key notion in the study of sociality. A phenomenological perspective on empathy as intersubjective understanding offers a common ground for multiple dimensions. Corresponding to the dichotomy between perceptual and cognitive levels, two constructs can be distinguished: vicariously experiencing and intuitively understanding others' emotions. We developed and validated a new questionnaire for the assessment of individual differences in empathy. In a first study (N = 921), we created a questionnaire measuring empathy consisting of a pool of 75 items. Exploratory factor analysis suggested to retain two factors ("Intuitive Understanding" and "Vicarious Experience"), whereas a 30-item version of the questionnaire had satisfactory psychometric properties. In a second study (N = 504), we administered the 30-items questionnaire and several concurrent/divergent measures. Confirmatory factor analysis indicated that a two-factor structure best represented its latent factor structure. The results show that our questionnaire could be considered a reliable and valid measure of empathy with internal consistencies of 0.93 and 0.95 for Vicarious Experience and Intuitive Intuitive Understanding, respectively. Whereas our questionnaire mostly showed the expected convergence with existing scales of empathy, the correlations also suggest that it adds valuable new information to the assessment of empathy. The two-factor structure suggests that the perceptual (vicarious) experience and the basic (non-effortful) cognitive awareness of others' emotions can be assessed as distinct constructs. This bidimensional structure that distinguishes between the perceptual experience and the basic cognitive awareness of others' emotional states connects theoretical, empirical, and clinical data from psychology and neuroscience.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11564/710253
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