Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Empathy Quotient Test

Here is the link for an Empathy Quotient test

I think the test sucks, and I haven't even finished it yet. Some sample questions:
  • I try to keep up with the current trends and fashions. Sooo....if we are not good little groupies, this counts against us in the empathy department? How does being a non-conformist equate to lack of empathy?
  • I try to solve my own problems rather than discussing them with others. Wanting to solve one's own problems or to at least give it a try before seeking outside help is a male trait. Is the implication here that males are less empathetic, or that help seeking is related to empathy? Several of my kids don't like to seek help because they're anxious about being a pain to other people. How can that be construed as a lack of empathy?
  • I am at my best first thing in the morning. This is a stupid question. Is someone tries to claim that being a morning person or not has an effect on our ability to feel empathy, I'll scream. :-/ I repeat, stooooopid question.
  • Friendships and relationships are just too difficult, so I tend not to bother with them. Difficult? Perhaps this question should be reworded to: "Friendships and relationships are often so painful that at times, the risk seems higher than the potential reward".
  • In a conversation, I tend to focus on my own thoughts rather than on what my listener might be thinking. This, folks, is a trick question! Here is the way I am reading it: "In a conversation I tend to focus on my own thoughts rather than what my thoughts are about what I think the listener might be thinking". I don't try to read the listener's mind much if at all. I try very hard to read their facial expressions (not that it does me much good), but the bottom line is that one must ask for feedback in a conversation and then listen carefully to what they tell you. Trying to think about what they might be thinking is just.....messy and likely to end badly...very badly.
  • When I was a child, I enjoyed cutting up worms to see what would happen The only relevant question I have encountered so far.
  • I like to do things on the spur of the moment. What bearing does spontaneity have on empathy?
  • I am good at predicting how someone will feel. I am not, and I know it, so I try to err on the side of caution.
  • I enjoy being the centre of attention at any social gathering. Wait...let me guess....being an extraverted attention hog = superior empathy? What about all the folks who may be feeling bored or left out?
  • When I talk to people, I tend to talk about their experiences rather than my own. This one could be relevant. I like to hear about the experiences of others, or I wouldn't like to read biographies and books by Oliver Sacks and Temple Grandin as much as I do. The way other people think and experience things fascinates me. can I talk about their experiences? I can only listen and ask pertinent questions. At the same time, it is not well to be nosy and intrusive. My upbringing was not one in which anyone walked up to someone else and asked how they were feeling. It simply was not done. We talked about achievements and politics and the status of other people....not about how anyone was feeling. So to me, asking how someone feels seems like a very personal question, one I would not ask of someone unless I felt quite close to them.
  • I get upset if I see people suffering on news programmes. Yes...but. My response is likely to be one of avoiding television entirely, of anger about the situation which caused suffering, or of changing the channel. An onlooked might not intuit that I was upset.
  • Friends usually talk to me about their problems as they say that I am very understanding. Close friends often do talk to me about their problems...sometimes in much richer detail than I would have asked for... I don't mind listening if it makes them feel better, but I do sometimes feel as though I should be helping them to find a solution. For some reason, people end up telling me all sorts of stuff. It could be because I have a fairly open mind, because I don't know how to hang up the phone graciously, or because what they are saying is genuinely interesting to me. It's all about perception, and when people talk, one learns about their perceptions. The world is a giant walking, talking laboratory.
  • I often start new hobbies but quickly become bored with them and move on to something else. This could be an attention deficit issue....and should not be confused with empathy.
  • I like to be very organized in day-to-day life and often make lists of the chores I have to do. Oh, I see. Now those of us who are a little OCD or anal retentive lack empathy? You guys need to write a better test, one that focuses *only* on empathy and doesn't get muddled up with other disorders.
  • I can tell if someone is masking their true emotion. Oddly enough, yes. This is a prime reason why I hate eye contact. The world is full of eyes saying one things while everything else about the person says another. It is very awkward and uncomfortable, and I do not know how to deal with it. When someone claims they having a great day but their eyes say "pain", what can you do? Probably if they are lying, they don't want to talk about it. Awkward...very awkward.
"Your score: 22 0 - 32 = low (most people with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism score about 20) 33 - 52 = average (most women score about 47 and most men score about 42) 53 - 63 is above average 64 - 80 is very high 80 is maximum " See, folks...this is not really an empathy quotient test. This is a fast and dirty test for people on the autism spectrum. So many of the questions are slanted towards spectrumites and have absolutely nothing to do with empathy. Questions such as: "I prefer animals to humans.", "I find it difficult to explain to others things that I understand easily, when they don't understand it the first time" (how is a difficulty with articulating our thoughts a lack of empathy?). "I don't tend to find social situations confusing." ========================================================== I think that we either need to be very, very clear about what empathy means (reading minds and faces????) as opposed to what society thinks it means (caring whether someone gets hurt). People on the spectrum are getting a bad rap. We're losing custody of our children, marriage counselors caution our spouses to leave us based on our so called lack of empathy, and I could go on for a long time on this topic...but the bottom line is this: When Joe Schmoe hears that autistics lack empathy, his conclusion is that persons with autism are cold, heartless bastards who feel nothing for anyone but themselves, and that is simply not true. Make a better test. Make one that can detect a lack of empathy in an otherwise neurotypical person. Divorce "lack of empathy" from "autism spectrum" when designing and writing these tests.....because the test as is stands resembles one which purports to detect likelihood of running people down and biting them, when what it really is, is a test to find out whether one is a dog or a cat. Many dogs do not bite, and some cats do bite. This test is a sham and needs to be discarded. Edited to add: Here is a better and more intelligently, concisely written critique of the test:


Anonymous said...

Whoa, I suck! 29 And here I always tell people how empathetic I am.


chamoisee said...

I don't know if you suck or not....but clearly, the test sucks! :-P

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