Empathy Quotient 2.0
This test is chiefly responsible for spreading the ugly stereotype that autistics lack the mental capacity for empathy. It doesn't measure much of anything, in fact, because the questions are vaguely worded and culturally dependent. (The issue is much the same as when racial minorities get low scores on culturally biased intelligence tests.)
So I've taken the liberty of putting together a new and improved test with more detailed scenarios—Empathy Quotient 2.0—which is designed primarily to measure the empathy level of non-autistics. You'll find an answer key at the end of this post.
Question 1: You are a middle school teacher. One of your students is getting bullied every day for being a "nerd." Do you:
(a) Suggest to his parents that they enroll him in a social skills class, so that he can learn to act more like the other students and avoid the bullies' attention;
(b) Punish the bullies and inform their parents that their behavior is unacceptable and must stop;
(c) Ignore the situation because that's just how kids interact and "nerds" are natural targets;
(d) Feel sorry for the "nerd" and tell him that he can hide in the classroom during recess.
Question 2: You are a hiring manager. One applicant clearly has better technical qualifications than the others. When you interview him, you notice that he rocks in his chair, does not make eye contact, and speaks in a monotone. Will you:
(a) Hire him because he is the most qualified candidate;
(b) Hire him, even though you think he's creepy, because you're afraid of being sued if you don't;
(c) Talk with your buddy in Human Resources about how to cover your ass when you reject him;
(d) Just tell him flat-out that you don't hire his kind. So what if he sues you? The jury probably won't like him any more than you do.
Question 3: A new family just moved into your neighborhood. Someone tells you that their son is autistic. Do you:
(a) Warn your kids not to go near the autistic boy because you've heard people like that can be dangerous;
(b) Don't say anything, but keep a careful eye on your kids whenever they go near the new family's house, and try to distract them from doing so;
(c) Insist that your kids play with the autistic boy, whether they want to or not, because it's their charitable duty to befriend the disabled;
(d) Teach your children some basic facts about autism so that they will have a reasonable understanding of the new neighbor's behavior.
Question 4: You supervise a group of software engineers. One of them, a quiet and shy woman who always has been a reliable employee, tells you that she just got an Asperger diagnosis and feels stressed out. She asks you if she can work from home next week. Your response:
(a) Tell her that's fine, and while she's gone, call a staff meeting and warn all her co-workers that she is mentally unstable;
(b) Say that she can stay home next week and just relax—there's no need to do any work while at home. Make sure nobody hears the conversation, so that you can fire her for absenteeism;
(c) Grant her request because you know she can be trusted to get the work done;
(d) Helpfully offer to let her telecommute permanently—that'll save you the trouble of having an autistic employee in your office, and you've heard those people would rather be alone anyway.
Question 5: You discover that your tax money is being used for genetic research to develop a prenatal screening test for autism. You feel:
(a) Outraged—since when did the government have any right to decide what kinds of people are worthy to exist?
(b) Unconcerned—you don't know much about autistic people, but you've heard they are nothing but trouble, and you figure the government probably knows what it's doing;
(c) Ambivalent—you might not abort for that reason yourself, but you're reluctant to pass judgment on others who have different views;
(d) Gleeful—you're hoping for a future where autism is nothing but a word for the history books.
Question 6: Your sister is engaged to marry an autistic guy. Do you:
(a) Wonder if her boyfriend is capable of a long-term relationship, because you read somewhere that autistics rarely marry, but you don't say much because you don't want to be rude;
(b) Go into a tirade about the terrible fate she'll be dooming her children to suffer;
(c) Give her your congratulations and best wishes for a life of happiness;
(d) Suggest that she keep her finances separate, just in case any problems arise, and mention that you know a good divorce attorney.
Question 7: You are driving your teenage daughter and some of her friends to soccer practice in your SUV. You overhear a conversation about something foolish that a boy did at school. "That's so autistic," your daughter says, giggling. Do you:
(a) Enjoy the conversation and laugh along with the girls;
(b) Feel mildly uncomfortable, but say nothing—after all, your daughter probably doesn't know what "autistic" means anyway;
(c) Ignore it because that's just how kids talk, and it's no big deal;
(d) Have a talk with your daughter about respecting human diversity.
Question 8: You are a psychologist with an interest in autism. In the course of your work, do you:
(a) Teach mainstream social behaviors to autistics, without giving much thought to the reasons for their differences;
(b) Scrupulously ensure that you follow the scientific method and avoid making biased assumptions in your research;
(c) Drum up support and grants for ethically questionable research projects by describing the autistic population as a crushing burden to society;
(d) Create bogus online tests and irresponsible stereotypes.
Question 1: a=3 points, b=10 points, c=0 points, d=6 points.
Question 2: a=10 points, b=6 points, c=3 points, d=0 points.
Question 3: a=0 points, b=3 points, c=6 points, d=10 points.
Question 4: a=3 points, b=0 points, c=10 points, d=6 points.
Question 5: a=10 points, b=3 points, c=6 points, d=0 points.
Question 6: a=6 points, b=0 points, c=10 points, d=3 points.
Question 7: a=0 points, b=6 points, c=3 points, d=10 points.
Question 8: a=6 points, b=10 points, c=0 points, d=3 points.
If your score is:
64-80: Bravo—you are a very fair-minded and enlightened person. Too bad the rest of society isn't like you.
53-63: You have above average empathy, but it could stand a little improvement.
33-52: Your level of empathy is in the average range. Unfortunately, you are "normal."
0-32: Ever thought about working for Autism Speaks?