The Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1980, 1983) is a measure of dispositional empathy that takes as its starting point the notion that empathy consists of a set of separate but related constructs. The instrument contains four seven-item subscales, each tapping a separate facet of empathy. The perspective taking (PT) scale measures the reported tendency to spontaneously adopt the psychological point of view of others in everyday life (“I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective”). The empathic concern (EC) scale assesses the tendency to experience feelings of sympathy and compassion for unfortunate others (“I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me”). The personal distress (PD) scale taps the tendency to experience distress and discomfort in response to extreme distress in others (“Being in a tense emotional situation scares me”). The fantasy (FS) scale measures the tendency to imaginatively transpose oneself into fictional situations (“When I am reading an interesting story or novel, I imagine how I would feel if the events in the story were happening to me”).
- Davis, M. H. (1980). A multidimensional approach to individual differences in empathy. JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology, 10, 85.
- Davis, M. H. (1983). Measuring individual differences in empathy: Evidence for a multidimensional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 113-126.