Abstract

Objective.The purpose of this research was to study the stability, internal consistency, factor structure, and convergent and discriminate validity of the Hogan Empathy Scale (EM) when used longitudinally with occupational therapy students.

Method.More than 300 occupational therapy students completed the EM once; 192 completed it twice over a 12-month interval; and 56 completed a third administration at intervals ranging from 3 years to 6 years. The Fieldwork Performance Evaluation (FWPE) was rated twice for students after fieldwork rotations in the occupational therapy program. Data on grade-point average, gender, and age were collected.

Results.Stability was estimated at .41 over a 12-month interval and from .30 to .38 over longer intervals. Internal consistency was estimated at .57, and factor structures hypothesized previously were not replicable. Students’ biographical variables explained only trivial amounts of variance in EM scores in regression equations (R = .08 and .21). Correlations between EM and FWPE scores did not support convergent validity (r = −.01–.18).

Conclusion.The reliability estimates for the EM as a measure of a trait-like construct are not encouraging and do not replicate previous estimates. Validity evidence was equally disappointing, raising questions about what the EM is measuring and cautioning against its continued, uncritical use as a measure of empathy.

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