Questionnaire of Cognitive and Affective Empathy (QCAE)

The Questionnaire of Cognitive and Affective Empathy (QCAE) is a 31-item measure intended to capture various aspects of empathy. The items of the QCAE originate from the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, Impulsiveness Venturesomeness Empathy Inventory, Empathy Quotient, and Hogan Empathy Scale. The measure includes two subscales: Cognitive Empathy and Affective Empathy, which are broken up into smaller subscales.


Geographies Tested: United Kingdom

Populations Included: Female, Male

Age Range: Adolescents, Adults


Cognitive Empathy

Perspective Taking
1. I can easily work out what another person might want to talk about.
2. I can tell if someone is masking their true emotion.
3. I can sense if I am intruding, even if the other person does not tell me.
4. I am good at predicting how someone will feel.
5. I am good at predicting what someone will do.
6. I am quick to spot when someone in a group is feeling awkward or uncomfortable.
7. I can pick up quickly if someone says one thing but means another.
8. I can easily tell if someone else is interested or bored with what I am saying.
9. I can easily tell if someone else wants to enter a conversation.
10. Other people tell me I am good at understanding how they are feeling and what they are thinking.

Online Simulation
11. I try to look at everybody’s side of a disagreement before I make a decision.
12. Before criticizing somebody, I try to imagine how I would feel if I was in their place.
13. When I am upset at someone, I usually try to “put myself in his shoes” for a while.
14. I always try to consider the other fellow’s feelings before I do something.
15. I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective.
16. I can usually appreciate the other person’s viewpoint, even if I do not agree with it.
17. I sometimes find it difficult to see things from the “other guy’s” point of view.*
18. Before I do something I try to consider how my friends will react to it.
19. I find it easy to put myself in somebody else’s shoes.

Affective Empathy

Emotion Contagion
20. I am happy when I am with a cheerful group and sad when the others are glum.
21. It worries me when others are worrying and panicky.
22. People I am with have a strong influence on my mood.
23. I am inclined to get nervous when others around me seem to be nervous.

Peripheral Responsivity
24. I usually stay emotionally detached when watching a film.*
25. I am usually objective when I watch a film or play, and I don’t often get completely caught up in it.*
26. I often get deeply involved with the feelings of a character in a film, play, or novel.
27. It is hard for me to see why some things upset people so much.*

Proximal Responsivity
28. I often get emotionally involved with my friends’ problems.
29. Friends talk to me about their problems as they say that I am very understanding.
30. It affects me very much when one of my friends seems upset.
31. I get very upset when I see someone cry.

Response Options:
Strongly disagree - 1
Slightly disagree - 2
Slightly agree - 3
Strongly agree - 4

*Items are reverse scored.

Scoring Procedures

The two cognitive subscales are summed to produce the score on the cognitive empathy scale and the three affective subscales are summed to produce the affective empathy score. The sum of cognitive and affective empathy scores provides the total QCAE.

Original Citation

Reniers, R. L., Corcoran, R., Drake, R., Shryane, N. M., & Vollm, B. A. (2011). The QCAE: a Questionnaire of Cognitive and Affective Empathy. Journal of Personality Assessment, 93(1), 84-95.

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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