The development of a scale to measure empathy in 8- and 9-year old children
University of Newcastle
Computing, Health and Science
Psychology and Social Science
Empathy has been suggested to facilitate effective collaborative problem solving in children. The current study adapted the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI, Davis, 1980), a well-validated empathy measure for adults, for use with children aged 8 and 9 years. Four hundred and thirteen school children aged between 7;11 and 9;11 years completed the new measure, "Feeling and Thinking" (F&T) aimed at measuring both the affective and cognitive components of empathy. Principal Components Analysis with Varimax rotation produced a clear and logical four factor solution that resembled but did not duplicate the IRI. Further scrutiny reduced the scale to a more parsimonious 12 item, two factor scale representing the two components of empathy. It is suggested that F&T is capable of measuring empathy in children. Further psychometric investigations of the F&T will enhance knowledge of the affective/cognitive distinction in empathy.