The Balanced Emotional Empathy Test (BEES) and Optional Software

Definition of Emotional Empathy
"Emotional Empathy" is defined as one's vicarious experience of another's emotional experiences -- feeling what the other person feels. In the context of personality measurement, it describes individual differences in the tendency to have emotional empathy with others. Some individuals tend to be generally more empathic in their dealings with others; they typically experience more of the feelings others feel, whereas others tend to be generally less empathic. In addition, Emotional Empathy has been found to relate to generally healthy and adjusted personality functioning and to reflect interpersonal positiveness and skill. The Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale (BEES) measures both of the aforementioned components of Emotional Empathy (i.e., vicarious experience of others' feelings; interpersonal positiveness) in a balanced way. It is a completely new scale and is based on a substantial amount of research evidence derived with an earlier scale developed in my laboratory.

An interesting and extremely important feature of the BEES is that it relates negatively (r = -.50) to interpersonal violence and, thus, may be useful (as an indirect and subtle measure) for identifying persons who may have a potential to behave in highly aggressive or violent ways (Mehrabian, 1997b).

Windows Software for Administring and Scoring the BEES
Windows software for administering, scoring, and interpreting the Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale is available. It runs on IBM-compatible machines. The software may be useful even if you plan on group administering the paper and pencil version of the BEES given in the test manual. In that case, you can use the software to input data from each participant and have the software compute total scores and z-scores for all participants as well as averaged data for different groups of participants (see next paragraph).

The software provides (a) total score, equivalent z-score, equivalent percentile score, and interpretation of these scores for each person tested and (b) a database of scores for all individuals tested. The software includes several useful features of which some are noted here. It allows you to assign a Group ID to each participant (e.g. to assign different Group ID numbers to individuals from different experimental conditions, such as medical students vs. engineering students or to assign different Group ID numbers to a pretest (e.g., pre-empathy-training participants) vs. a posttest group). The software supplies averaged total scores and averaged z-scores for each Group ID. Additionally, it allows you to export the data as an ASCII DOS TEXT file (.txt) that you can print. It also will export a spreadsheet file (.csv) for additional analyses, e.g., with Excel. Conversely, the software will allow importing of data from various testing sites so that data obtained from several locations can be combined into a single file, thereby providing a quick summary of averaged reactions of respondents to stimuli.

The software is easy to use and is password protected so that the Administrator can control access to the database of results. In this way, individuals being tested cannot have access to the results, unless the Administrator chooses to report such results to them.

Scale Description: Format, Sample Items, Features
The Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale (BEES) is in a questionnaire format and is very easy to administer and score. Subjects report the degree of their agreement or disagreement with each of its 30 items using a 9-point agreement-disagreement scale.

Sample Items of the BEES
Test Features
Reliability and Validity Data
Alpha internal consistency of the BEES was .87 (Mehrabian, 1997b, page 440). Validity data for the Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale (BEES) was reported by Mehrabian (1997b).

In addition, experimental work, reviewed by Mehrabian, Young, and Sato (1988) and by Chlopan et al. (1985) yielded the findings listed below for an early version of our empathy scale, the 1972 Emotional Empathic Tendency Scale (EETS). The listed validity evidence can be attributed to the newer BEES (Mehrabian, 1996) because the BEES has exhibited a very high positive correlation of .77 with the 1972 EETS (Mehrabian, 1997b, Table 2).

Evidence reviewed in Mehrabian, Young, and Sato (1988) can be summarized as follows: Persons with higher Emotional Empathic Tendency Scale scores, compared with those with lower scores, are more likely to:

Considerable additional reliability and validity information on the Abbreviated Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale were provided by Mehrabian (2000). In particular, findings showed the Abbreviated BEES to be a positive correlate of emotional success (i.e., general emotional well-being), relationship success (i.e., healthy and happy inter-personal relationships), career and financial success, and overall life success (Mehrabian, 2000, Table 10).

Mehrabian's (1997a) theoretical analysis of traits that are approximately related to affiliation and sociability (i.e., sensitivity to rejection, empathy, dependency, conformity, popularity, loneliness, and shyness) sheds additional light on the construct validity of the BEES.

Illustrative Examples of Validity from Recent Studies
In an interesting study, Singer, Seymour, O'Doherty, Kaube, Dolan, and Frith (2004) used functional imaging to assess brain activity of participants who watched a loved one receive a painful stimulus. BEES scores correlated with level of activation of the affective component of the pain matrix (namely, anterior insula, AI, and rostral anterior cingulate cortex, rACC).

Van Hasselt et al (2005) used the BEES as part of a study of actual negotiated encounters by the Cirsis Negotiation Unit of the FBI. Their findings showed that the BEES had moderate positive correlations with negotiation skills of the FBI agents as indexed by positive correlations with "paraphrasing," "reflecting and mirroring," and "total active listening" skills of the agents.

Participants in LeSure-Lester?s (2000) study were adolescents living in a group home under supervision of the Los Angeles County Protective Services. The BEES was used to measure empathy and reliable behavioral observations constituted the remaining variables. Highly significant and strong correlations obtained in the study were as follows: BEES scores correlated -.57 with aggression toward peers, -.59 with aggression toward staff, .67 with compliance with house rules, and .57 with chores completed.

Shapiro, Morrison, and Boker (2004) used the BEES to assess the effectiveness of an empathy training course for first year medical students. The students participated in 8 sessions involving the reading of poetry and prose dealing with doctors and patients. BEES scores increased significantly from before to after the empathy training sessions. In a related study, Farkas (2002) used a multisensory technique (designed to stimulus multiple senses) to train students for greater empathy towards Holocaust victims. The empathy training resulted in significant gains in BEES scores.

Macaskill, Maltby, and Day (2002) studied the BEES in relation to forgiveness of others and self. Their findings showed that both male and female participants with higher BEES scores were more likely to find it easier to forgive others (but not the self). Mackey, Courtright, and Packard (2006) found the BEES to be the best predictor of participant beliefs that greater expenditures and efforts are needed to rehabilitate prisoners for assimilation into society.

Key Articles Relating to the BEES
If you are unable to obtain any of these important articles bearing on the BEES, contact Albert Mehrabian to get Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) files:

Chlopan, B.E., McCain, M.L., Carbonell, J.L., & Hagen, R.L. (1985). Empathy: Review of available measures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 635-653.

Farkas, R.D. (2002). Effect(s) of traditional versus learning-styles instructional methods on seventh-grade students' achievement, attitudes, empathy, and transfer of skills through a study of the Holocaust. Dissertation Abstracts International, Section A: Humanities & Social Sciences, 63(4-A), 1243.

LeSure-Lester, G.E. (2000). Relation between empathy and aggression and behavior compliance among abused group home youth. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 31, 153-161.

Macaskill, A., Maltby, J., & Day, L. (2002). Forgiveness of self and others and emotional empathy. Journal of Social Psychology, 142, 663-665.

Mackey, D.A., Courtright, K.E., & Packard, S.H. (2006). Testing the rehabilitative ideal among college students. Criminal Justice Studies, 19,153-170.

Mehrabian, A., & Epstein, N. (l972). A measure of emotional empathy. Journal of Personality, 40, 525-543.

Mehrabian, A., Young, A.L., & Sato, S. (1988). Emotional empathy and associated individual differences. Current Psychology: Research & Reviews, 7, 221-240.

Mehrabian, A. (1996). Manual for the Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale (BEES). (Available from Albert Mehrabian, 1130 Alta Mesa Road, Monterey, CA, USA 93940).

Mehrabian, A. (1997a). Analysis of affiliation-related traits in terms of the PAD Temperament Model. Journal of Psychology, 131,101-117.

Mehrabian, A. (1997b). Relations among personality scales of aggression, violence, and empathy: Validational evidence bearing on the Risk of Eruptive Violence Scale, Aggressive Behavior, 23 433-445.

Mehrabian, A. (2000). Beyond IQ: Broad-based measurement of individual success potential or "emotional intelligence." Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 126, 133-239.

Shapiro, J., Morrison, E.H., & Boker, J.R. (2004). Teaching empathy to first year medical students: Evaluation of an elective literature and medicine course. Education for Health: Change in Learning & Practice, 17, 73-84.

Singer, T., Seymour, B., O'Doherty, J., Kaube, H., Dolan, R.J., & Frith, C.D. (2004). Empathy for pain involves the affective but not sensory components of pain. Science, 303 1157-1162.

Van Hasselt, V.B., Baker, M.T., Romano, S.J., Sellers, A.H., Noesner, G.W., & Smith, S. (2005). Development and validation of a role-play test for assessing crisis (hostage) negotiation skills. Criminal Justice & Behavior, 32(3)345-361.


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