Empathy is the human capacity to understand and feel for the other human in distress. The capacity to understand the others emotions and the capacity to feel for the other are separate, dissociable processes, called cognitive empathy and affective empathy, latter of which is the focus of this study.
A review of the current methods of assessing affective empathic arousal revealed that there is currently a dearth of available ecologically valid ways to test empathic reactions.
Thus, the goal of this study was to develop a new way to measure affective empathy called Pictorial Empathy Test (PET), and assess the reliability and validity of this new test. Pictorial Empathy Test (PET) consists of 7 pictures of people in distress. Subjects were asked to rate their emotional arousal in a five-point scale. It was hypothesized that seven pictures all showed variance in one latent trait, affective empathy.