The Psychometric Assessment of Empathy: Development and Validation of the Perth Empathy Scale

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Abstract

Empathy, the ability to infer and share others’ affective states, plays a vital role in social interactions. However, no existing scale comprehensively assesses empathy’s cognitive and affective components across positive and negative emotional valence domains. This paper explores the latent structure of the empathy construct and attempts to remedy past measurement limitations by developing and validating a new 20-item self-report measure, the Perth Empathy Scale (PES). In Study 1 (N = 316), factor analyses revealed a coherent empathy construct comprised of cognitive and valence-specific affective components. Study 2 (N = 331) replicated this factor structure, showed measurement invariance between males and females, and highlighted the importance of assessing negative and positive emotions in empathy. The PES showed convergent and discriminant validity from comparisons with alexithymia and other empathy measures. Overall, this paper empirically establishes a conceptually clear structure of the multidimensional empathy construct, which the PES reliably and validly measures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1140-1156
Number of pages17
JournalAssessment
Volume30
Issue number4
Early online date18 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

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