Introduction: The Empathy Quotient (EQ) is a self-report questionnaire that was developed to measure the cognitive, affective, and behavioural aspects of empathy. We evaluated its cross-cultural validity in an Italian sample.
Methods: A sample of 18- to 30-year-old undergraduate students of both sexes (N=256, males=118) were invited to fill in the Italian version of the EQ, as well as other measures of emotional competence and psychological distress. Results. The EQ had an excellent reliability (Cronbach's alpha=.79; test-retest at 1 month: Pearson's r=.85), and was normally distributed. Females scored higher than males, and more males (n=14, 11.9%) than females (n=4, 2.9%) scored lower than 30, the cutoff score that best differentiates autism spectrum conditions from controls. EQ was negatively related to the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS) and positively related to the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale (SDS). Principal component analysis retrieved the three-factor structure of the EQ. Lower emotional reactivity correlated with higher scores in measures of risk in both the schizophrenia-like (Peters et al. Delusions Inventory) and the bipolar (Hypomanic Personality Scale) spectra.
Conclusions: The Italian version of the EQ has good validity, with an acceptable replication of the original three-factor solution, yielding three subscales with high internal and test-retest reliability.