Basic Empathy Scale

The Basic Empathy Scale is a 20-item measure of basic empathy, assessing four emotions: fear, sadness, anger, and happiness.


Geographies Tested: United Kingdom

Populations Included: Female, Male

Age Range: Adults


  1. My friend’s emotions don’t affect me much
  2. After being with a friend who is sad about something, I usually feel sad
  3. I can understand my friend’s happiness when shehe does well at something
  4. I get frightened when I watch characters in a good scary movie
  5. I get caught up in other feelings easily
  6. I find it hard to know when my friends are frightened
  7. I don’t become sad when I see other people crying
  8. Other people’s feelings don’t bother me at all
  9. When someone is feeling down I can usually understand how they feel
  10. I can usually work out when my friends are scared
  11. I often become sad when watching sad things on TV or in films
  12. I can often understand how people are feeling even before they tell me
  13. Seeing a person who has been angered has no effect on my feelings
  14. I can usually work out when people are cheerful
  15. I tend to feel scared when I am with friends who are afraid
  16. I can usually realize quickly when a friend is angry
  17. I often get swept up in my friend’s feelings
  18. My friend’s unhappiness doesn’t make me feel anything
  19. I am not usually aware of my friend’s feelings
  20. I have trouble figuring out when my friends are happy

Response Options:
A five-point response scale (strongly disagree to strongly agree)

Scoring Procedures

Not Available

Original Citation

Jolliffe, D., & Farrington, D. P. (2006). Development and validation of the Basic Empathy Scale. Journal of adolescence, 29(4), 589-611.

Psychometric Score

Ease of Use Score

Scoring breakdown

Formative Research

Qualitative Research

Existing Literature/Theoretical Framework

Field Expert Input

Cognitive Interviews / Pilot Testing








Criterion (gold-standard)



Ease of Use


Scoring Clarity


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