The Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (also known as the Big Three) is the oldest of these scales, originating with the research of Hans J Eysenck in the 1940s. Eysenck figured that if different people break down under stress in different ways (that is, they have different mental illnesses in similar circumstances), then they probably have underlying personality differences that are biologically based. Eysenck influenced Jung (extraversion) and the Big Five family of questionnaires, which have two of the same scales.
The Big Five group of questionnaires are derived from natural groupings of the adjectives people use to describe other people - they are descriptive rather than prescriptive. The Big Five Inventory is one of several versions of the Big Five out there.
The Interpersonal Reactivity Index was designed to be the one-size-fits-all measure of empathy, because it contains not one but four different scales for empathy.
Hans Eysenck and colleagues developed a scale, the EPQ-R (100 items), that looked at the underlying personality traits that are reflected in the way different people break down under stress in different ways (when they're under stress). This is a prescriptive scale, rather than the descriptive "big five" scale that is popular right now. The names of the traits psychoticism and neuroticism are derived from two main categories of mental illness: psychosis and neurosis, but scores on these traits do not indicate mental illness. It's your personality they're describing. (However, if for some reason you were to go over the edge, they might indicate which edge you went over. But don't do that. We like you happy and healthy.)
Extraversion (E) measures how outgoing you are. (More below.)
Psychoticism (P) is associated with unconventionality and creativity. This scale is strongly right-skewed - most people score in the low range. (More below.)
Neuroticism (N) measures how emotionally stable (low N) or emotional (high N) a person is. Women generally score higher than men. Your N scores on the big three (EPQ-R) and the big five (another popular personality questionnaire) will not be identical, but should be in the same ballpark. (More below.)
The Lie Scale (L) measures either how honest you are or how well-behaved you are. People who are honest about their imperfections get lower scores. People who are perfect get higher scores. I'll leave it to you to decide how to interpret your score.
Scores vary from one country to the next, even when the tests aren't translations (e.g. North Americans are higher on E than Europeans; Australians are higher on P), as well as by sex and age. So don't worry too much about published means. Unless you want to.
Research has also been done on various demographic groups. For example, Chinese writers have scored higher on average on E, N, and P and lower on L, while Chinese mathematicians have scored lower on P and higher on L (Hu and Gong, 1990). You can see the potential.
|Scale||Mean||SD||Mean||SD||Range of scores|
|Lie Scale (L)||7.10||4.28||6.88||3.97||0-21|
Hans J. Eysenck and Sybil B.G. Eysenck, 1976. Psychoticism as a dimension of personality. Hodden and Stoughton, London.
S.B.G. Eysenck, H.J. Eysenck, and P. Barrett, 1985. A revised version of the psychoticism scale. Personality and Individual Differences 6(1): 21-29.
Chiyee Hu and Yaoxian Gong, 1990. Personality differences between writers and mathematicians on the EPQ. Personality and Individual Differences 11(6): 637-638.
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The Interpersonal Reactivity Index (28 items) was created specifically to measure four factors related to empathy, and was carefully put through several factor analyses to make sure it does what it's supposed to.
The Fantasy Scale (FS) measures the tendency to get caught up in fictional stories and imagine oneself in the same situations as fictional characters. You could probably look at this as imaginative empathy.
The Perspective Taking (PT) scale measures the tendency to take the psychological point of view of others. You could probably look at this as cognitive (thinking) empathy.
The Empathic Concern (EC) scale measures sympathy and concern for others. You could probably look at this as emotional empathy.
The final scale, the Personal Distress (PD) scale measures the kinds of feelings (anxiety, etc.) that get in the way of helping others.
|Scale||Mean score - men||Mean score - women||range of scores|
|Fantasy Scale (FS)||15.73||18.75||0-28|
|Perspective Taking (PT)||16.78||17.96||0-28|
|Empathic Concern (EC)||19.04||21.67||0-28|
|Personal Distress (PD)||9.46||12.28||0-28|
Mark H. Davis, 1983. Measuring individual differences in empathy: Evidence for a multidimensional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 44(1):113-126
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