Saturday, August 6, 2011

Journeys with Autism » A Critique of the Empathy Quotient (EQ) Test: Introduction and Part 1

A Critique of the Empathy Quotient (EQ) Test: Introduction and Part 1

This post is the first in a series critiquing the Empathy Quotient (EQ) test. Please feel free to offer your thoughts, your suggestions, your constructive criticism, and your own personal responses to the test or to my analysis of it. Your comments will help me refine both my thinking on the issue and the quality of my critique.

Introduction
The Empathy Quotient (EQ) test was designed by Simon Baron-Cohen and Sally Wheelwright, and is included in their 2004 paper The Empathy Quotient: An Investigation of Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism, and Normal Sex Differences. It is frequently used as one of the primary measures of empathy in autistic people, and is often brought forward to support the twin contentions that a) autistic people have below-average levels of empathy and that b) autism is, by definition, a low-empathy condition.
A very interesting post and worth reading the whole thing here. The test that is being critiqued is actually the very one that led me to believe that I am Aspie. My self diagnoses is not dependent upon that test however. Instead I have by this time read enough (6 books about AS and a multitude of online posts and emails) and now just today have met up with several aspies in San Francisco and my confidence in this diagnoses has gone from 99% to 99.9% :-)

She points out that NT people never pick up on our (my) distress in certain situations, noisy rooms full of chatter, overwhelming perfumes etc. In those situations I can be near tears or ready to howl in agony and NT people are utterly oblivious. So just who has a problem with empathy?!? I hadn’t considered that aspect of the thing before. I look forward to her next post!

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