More on the empathy test, part 2

I´m continuing my step-by-step dissection of the empathy test.

12. Friendships and relationships are just too difficult, so I tend not to bother with them.

Slightly agree. I typically have one that is very close, but only one. I cannot juggle to many social relationships and friendships. I get into loyalty conflicts, don´t know who I can tell how much about me, who I can spend how much time with, and it all just gets messy. I don´t mind very loose friendships if they are limited to meeting weekly (or less) for an activity we´re both interested in, and I can have lots of fun on these occasions, but only when my partner comes along. Yes, I´m totally dependent and not cool.

13. I would never break a law, no matter how minor.

Slightly agree. I´m not exactly a saint, but I have great trouble crossing the street when the lights are red even if it´s midnight and there´s neither a car nor a kid around. I´m slightly compulsive that way and I´ve looked ridiculous often enough.

14. I often find it difficult to judge if something is rude or polite.

Slightly agree. Typical situation: I´m at the restaurant with my partner and her mother. Her mother pays the bill, I´m not sure if I´m invited or if she expects me to give her back some money. Therefore, I´m not sure if I should say “thank you”, because that would mean to interpret it as “i´m invited”, and maybe that was not her intention and she thinks “great, now I have to smile and nod even though I expected to get some money back!” I fear she might think of me as totally rude. Then again, not saying “thank you” if she was inviting me is equally rude.

15. In a conversation, I tend to focus on my own thoughts rather than on what my listener might be thinking.

In a conversation? Yes, strongly agree. I somehow have to keep an eye on my own thoughts, as they go into all kinds of directions. Sometimes that actually renders me unable to listen at all. It´s different when I´m writing. I mean – just how much time am I spending trying to figure out what the maker of this test might have been thinking?

16. I prefer practical jokes to verbal humour.

Why do I have to think of Sheldon Cooper yelling “buzzinga!” now? But this gets a “strongly disagree”, I love verbal humour.

17. I live life for today rather than the future.

I live for nothing at all. I don´t know how to answer this question. I don´t know what it´s got to do with empathy, either. Empathizing with your future self? Nah, I don´t do that. I always assume that in the future I´ll be a different person who isn´t me at all, so, alright, “slightly agree”.

18. When I was a child, I enjoyed cutting up worms to see what would happen.

Ick, no! “Strongly disagree”! When I was a child, I loved to stare at the meat and intestines at the butcher´s, though. If this is supposed to measure the amount of cruelty present in a person, well, then I guess I´m cheating by telling the truth. I never cut up worms, but I certainly can be cruel in other ways.

19. I can pick up quickly if someone says one thing but means another.

Same objections as in 1). I often feel like others mean other things than they say, but they deny it. How do I know if I´m right or not? Anyway, I do remember a couple of occasions when I was very naive with regards to that, so I´ll give it a “slightly disagree”.

20. I tend to have very strong opinions about morality.

I have no idea how to answer this. I actually don´t like sentences such as “doing x is wrong” or “y is the right thing to do”. I always mentally add “only if you want to achieve z”. Also, I don´t have strong opinions like “it´s always wrong to abort” or “murder is never right”. I prefer to stay out of such arguments most of the time. I sometimes feel like I can see too many perspectives. I guess this gets “slightly disagree”.

21. It is hard for me to see why some things upset people so much.

If you mean that I´ll roll my eyes at people who disapprove of my interest in violent crimes, “strongly agree”. Then again, that question is a bit unfair, isn´t it? Almost everyone has to answer this with “strongly agree”. Nobody understands everything. With enough theoretical background, we might understand why someone with autism is upset when you suddenly touch them, but if people need background knowledge to make sense of someone´s behavior, then they probably have a hard time understanding it. Oh, but I guess “people” means “majority of people”! Yes, “strongly agree”.

This is tedious work, so I´ll stop here for now. More to follow. Hopefully.

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2 Responses to “More on the empathy test, part 2”

  1. writingthebody Says:

    Hmm… does this really worry you? Some of these tests are a bit ropey in my opinion….I scored empathy high, but so what?

  2. It does worry me because it seems to be of epistemic importance. If I cannot really put myself into other peoples´ shoes, or correctly interpret their behavior and displays of emotion, then I can´t really rely on my own perception. That is a pretty creepy thought. Therefore, I´m trying to figure out to which extent I´m really lost and to which extent this test might be flawed. Besides, it´s also a good exercise. I have to deal with Baron-Cohen´s theories in my thesis. 😉

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