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.
- Statements: 16
- Duration: 5–7 minutes
- Type: screening tool
- Authors: Nathan Spreng, Margaret McKinnon, Raymond Mar, and Brian Levine
- Publishing year: 2009
- Seminal paper: Spreng et al. (2009)
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:
- GreekPsychometric properties of the Greek version of the Toronto Composite Empathy Scale in Greek dental students (Tsiantou et al., 2013)The Toronto Empathy Questionnaire: Reliability and Validity in a Nationwide Sample of Greek Teachers (Kourmousi et al., 2017) (request the authors for the Greek version of the test)
Taking the test
Note: There are no right or wrong answers or trick questions.
- 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
- 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.
You can take the test using two methods of scoring:
- Automated-scoring, which is for most purposes.
- Self-scoring, in case you want documentation of your answers.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
A simple screening test that is used as a basis
for pursuing a formal autism evaluation
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remember instructions, multi-task, and self-regulate
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.
If you are looking for an autism assessment,
have a look at the following post: