Cross-validation of the Empathy Quotient in a French-speaking sample

Department of Psychiatry for Adolescents and Young Adults, Institut Mutualiste Montsouris, University Rene Descartes, Paris, France.
Canadian journal of psychiatry. Revue canadienne de psychiatrie (Impact Factor: 2.55). 08/2008; 53(7):469-77.
Source: PubMed


The Empathy Quotient (EQ) is a self-report that was developed to measure the cognitive and affective aspects of empathy. We further evaluated its validity in 2 studies.
The psychometric qualities of the French version of the EQ, and its correspondence with 2 other measures of empathy (Interpersonal Reactivity Index and the Empathy Scale of the Impulsiveness-Venturesomeness-Empathy Questionnaire), and with dimensions of the emotional state (depression and anxiety), were evaluated in a sample of 410 students (201 men and 209 women). Second, the clinical validity of the EQ was investigated in participants expected to have dysfunctional empathy. For this purpose, EQ scores of 16 people with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) were collected.
The EQ showed satisfying internal, convergent, test-retest and discriminant validity. The confirmatory factorial analyses suggested a 3-factor structure offered a good fit to the data. The women's superiority in empathy was replicated. As expected, the ASD EQ scores were very low.
This study provides further evidence that the EQ is reliable in this population and should be recommended to estimate empathy problems, notably in individuals with troubled interpersonal interaction patterns.

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    • "Note, however, that both alexithymia and empathy are complex concepts, and the distinction into an affective and a cognitive dimension in each of them is not considered unequivocal: A study by Bagby and colleagues failed to confirm the existence of two distinct alexithymia subtypes based on these two dimensions (Bagby et al., 2009), and due to the extensive interaction between cognitive and affective aspects of empathy, several researchers have either rejected the idea of these being separable concepts (Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright , 2004; Duan and Hill, 1996; Singer, 2006), or proposed to conceive of them in terms of different yet inherently interacting mechanisms contributing to different aspects of empathic resonance (Lamm and Majdandžić, 2015). Previous research indicates that individuals with high levels of alexithymia have pronounced deficits in both perspective taking and empathic concern (Berthoz et al., 2008; Feldmanhall et al., 2013; Grynberg et al., 2010; Guttman and Laporte, 2002; Silani et al., 2008; Vanheule et al., 2007; see Grynberg et al., 2012, for a review). This strong link can be explained in light of alexithymia being a deficit in the self-awareness of one's own feelings. "
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    ABSTRACT: Alexithymia, a deficit in emotional self-awareness, and deficits in empathy, which encompasses the awareness of other's emotions, are related constructs that are both associated with a range of psychopathological disorders. Neuroimaging studies suggest that there is overlap between the neural bases of alexithymia and empathy, but no systematic comparison has been conducted so far. The aim of this structural magnetic resonance imaging study was to disentangle the overlap and differences between the morphological profiles of the cognitive and affective dimensions of alexithymia and empathy, and to find out to what extent these differ between women and men. High-resolution T1 anatomical images were obtained from 125 healthy right-handers (18 - 42 years), 70 women and 55 men. By means of voxel-based morphometry, region of interest (ROI) analyses were performed on gray matter volumes of several anatomically defined a-priori regions previously linked to alexithymia and empathy. Partial correlations were conducted within the female and male group using ROI parameter estimates as dependent variables and the cognitive and affective dimensions of alexithymia and empathy, respectively, as predictors, controlling for age. Results were considered significant if they survived Holm-Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons. The left amygdala was identified as a key substrate of both alexithymia and empathy. This association was characterized by an opposite pattern: The cognitive alexithymia dimension was linked to smaller, the two empathy dimensions to larger left amygdala volume. While sex-specific effects were not observed for empathy, they were evident for the affective alexithymia dimension: Men - but not women - with difficulty fantasizing had smaller gray matter volume in the middle cingulate cortex. Moreover, structural covariance patterns between the left amygdala and other emotion-related brain regions differed markedly between alexithymia and empathy. These differences may underlie the complex patterns of deficits in emotional self- and other-awareness observed across a range of psychopathological conditions. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
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    • "The global score can vary from 0 to 80 (a higher score corresponds to greater empathy). The mean 7SD scores (range) observed in the French population are 41.477.7 (20–64) and 37.7710 (13–70) for females and males, respectively (Berthoz et al., 2008). Such between-sex difference in empathy has been observed in previous validation studies (Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright, 2004; Lawrence et al., 2004). "
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    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Neuropsychologia
    • "Furthermore, both studies found no relation between PeD and the EQ, indicating that PeD is not a facet of empathy. For Fan, Berthoz et al. (2008) found a small positive correlation to the EQ, whereas Lawrence et al. (2004) found no relation (which might be due to the small sample size in the latter case). Measurement of autistic and schizotypal features in our participants was carried out using the Autism Questionnaire (AQ; Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Skinner, Martin, & Clubley, 2001) and the Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences (CAPE; Stefanis et al., 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: 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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