empathy newCcaM researchers have recently published the Adolescent Measure of Empathy and Sympathy (AMES). The AMES is a short (12-item) scale that measures affective empathy, cognitive empathy, and sympathy in adolescents. The AMES provides a distinct advantage over existing scales and is a useful tool in understanding the relationship between empathy and behavior in adolescents. 

In this validation study, researchers discussed the development of the AMES and demonstrated that the AMES is a reliable and valid measure of empathy and sympathy in teens.

Many researchers agree that empathy is a crucial construct to understand during the teen years.  Empathy may, for example, explain why teens prefer certain types of media content.  Or, alternatively, media content may influence how empathetic teens are. Empathy also plays an important role in the development of social behavior in adolescents, as it is positively related to prosocial behavior and negatively related to aggression.

Surprisingly, however, a review of the literature suggests that researchers do not have a good way of measuring empathy. While some existing measures do not recognize that empathy has both an affective (sharing someone’s emotion) and cognitive component (understanding someone’s emotion), other measures confuse empathy and sympathy.  The AMES was designed to address these problems.

The psychometric properties of the AMES were established in two studies. In the first study, among 499 adolescents (10–15 years old), the structure of the AMES was investigated and the number of items was reduced to 12 items. In the second study, among 450 adolescents, test-retest reliability and construct validity of the AMES (with the IRI, prosocial behavior and aggressive behavior) was evaluated.

The study was conducted by a team of CcaM researchers: Helen Vossen, Jessica Piotrowski, and Patti Valkenburg

Click here to read the article “Development of the Adolescent Measure of Empathy and Sympathy (AMES)” published in Personality and Individual Differences. If you would like more information about this article, please contact the corresponding author – Helen Vossen – via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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