Development and validation of the Basic Empathy Scale

J Adolesc. 2006 Aug;29(4):589-611. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2005.08.010. Epub 2005 Sep 29.


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. Empathy was positively correlated with intelligence (for females only), extraversion (cognitive empathy only) neuroticism (affective empathy only), agreeableness, conscientiousness (for males only), and openness. Empathy was positively related to parental supervision and socioeconomic status. Adolescents who would help victims of bullying had high empathy.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Affect
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology
  • Cognition
  • Empathy*
  • Extraversion, Psychological
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology
  • Intelligence
  • Male
  • Neurotic Disorders / psychology
  • Parenting
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*