Creation and psychometrics of a new, multidimensional, empathy measure

Empathy is associated with numerous parenting and personality variables, but inconsistencies in definition, conceptualization, and measurement have created issues in generalization and making comparisons. The psychometric properties of empathy scales need to be established with further investigations. The purpose of this study was to develop a new, empathy scale based on items in previous scales, expert analyses of the items, and psychometric data from university students. The new scale was based on four dimensions of empathy conceptualized in recent literature (i.e., perspective taking, empathic concern, responsive distress, and responsive joy). To test the psychometric properties of the new scale, self-report survey data were collected from 464 university students (M = 19.3, ages 18-29 years) at a culturally-diverse university in Southern California. Exploratory factor analyses found a 4-factor model, consistent with the primary dimensions of empathy located within the literature. The empathy scales were significantly associated with theoretically-related personality variables and parenting variables, demonstrating convergent validity. Future studies should use the new empathy scales with more diverse samples to validate the current findings.