An illustration of Janine holding a sign that says ‘TEQ’, while surrounded by friendly cats.

Toronto Empathy Questionnaire

The Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ) is a self-report questionnaire measuring a person’s emotional ability to understand and respond to others.

 

Dr. Natalie’s rating: 3 stars for appropriate and respectful wording, 3 stars for clarity & lack of ambiguity, and 5 stars for testing accuracy.

 

Take the test here:


Who the test is designed for

  • Adults (age 16+) of average intelligence to higher intelligence.

Test versions & translations

The TEQ  is available in:


Taking the test

The TEQ consists of 16 statements, giving you 5 choices for each statement:[3]Toronto Empathy Questionnaire | Psychology Tools

  • Never
  • Rarely
  • Sometimes
  • Often
  • Always

Note: There are no right or wrong answers or trick questions.


Scoring

  • Scoring range: 0–64
  • Threshold score: 45
    • The TEQ scores exhibited a negative correlation with the Autism Quotient.
    • Scores 45 or higher indicate you have higher than normal empathy.
    • The lower the score, the less empathetic you are.
  • Most non-autistic males score:  43.46–44.45
  • Most non-autistic females score: 44.62–48.93

Scoring is as follows:

  • Never = 0
  • Rarely = 1
  • Sometimes = 2
  • Often = 3
  • Always = 4
Questions
  • Positively worded items: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 13, 16.
  • Negatively worded items are reverse scored: 2, 4, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15.
Methods

You can take the test using two methods of scoring:

  1. Automated-scoring, which is for most purposes.
  2. Self-scoring, in case you want documentation of your answers.

Validity

How reliable, accurate, valid, and up to date is the test?
In three studies, the TEQ demonstrated strong validity, correlating positively with social skills, self-report measures of empathy, and negatively with measures of autism symptomatology.


An illustration of Natalie pointing to the title ‘Discussion’.

Discussion

Natalie:
  • The TEQ is a good measure of one’s emotional empathy. I score 54 out of 60, indicating that I have high empathy, correlating well with my experience and career as a psychotherapist. I believe the TEQ to be a better alternative to Simon Baron-Cohen’s Empathy Quotient (EQ), as the EQ leaves many autistics feeling surprised and confused by their low score.
  • We know we have strong feelings—often too strong, but the EQ usually scores us as having shallow empathy. It is important to understand that Baron-Cohen’s EQ looks primarily at whether a person responds in a neurotypical way to social situations—not their capacity for emotional empathy.
  • The test was designed to test empathy in autistics. It uses negatively worded statements to avoid bias, but negatively worded statements are difficult for autistics and produce a disadvantage for us. For example, “Other people’s misfortunes do not disturb me a great deal.” The statements produce a “disagree” response to avoid response bias. For clarity, I convert to a positive version then choose the answer opposite to the positive version.
  • The authors claim that the TEQ is inversely correlated with the Autism Quotient and/or autism traits, but this does not hold true for many of us. For instance, my AQ score of 42 is high, but my TEQ of 54 is particularly high. Seeing as the TEQ was written in 2009, it would be nice if the test could be updated to better reflect the empathetic capacity of autistic people.
Kendall:
  • The negative statements are confusing and a problem for me. They’re easily understood, but figuring out what my answer should be is convoluted. Unlike other tests, the choices here are more useful – I don’t feel so boxed in and restricted. This questionnaire more accurately depicts my concept of empathy or the lack thereof (TEQ 48 vs EQ 13).

Recommended next steps

After the TEQ, consider taking one of the tests below.

Autism Spectrum Quotient

A simple screening test that is used as a basis
for pursuing a formal autism evaluation

Executive Skills Questionnaire

Measures ability to plan, organize, focus attention,
remember instructions, multi-task, and self-regulate

ADHD Self-Report Scale for DSM-5

Screening scale for ADHD

Online autism tests can play an essential role in the process of self-discovery, and may inform your decision to pursue a formal diagnosis. For a formal assessment, please see a knowledgeable medical professional trained in assessing autism.


An illustration of a clipboard with a checklist or assessment.

If you are looking for an autism assessment,
have a look at the following post:

Online autism assessments

Cognitive empathy, Emotional/affective empathy, Empathy, Nathan Spreng, Psychometric test


Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht & Kendall Jones

Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht & Kendall Jones

Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht RP ND is a dually licensed registered psychotherapist and naturopathic doctor and a Canadian leader in trauma and PTSD, and she happens to be autistic.Kendall Jones is a musician and sound engineer from Louisiana, with an affinity for both music and language. He was diagnosed late in life, at 61.

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