A revised instrument for the assessment of empathy and Theory of Mind in adolescents: Introducing the EmpaToM-Y

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung


  • Christina Breil - , Leibniz Universität Hannover (LUH) (Autor:in)
  • Philipp Kanske - , Professur für Klinische Psychologie und Behaviorale Neurowissenschaft, Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften (Autor:in)
  • Roxana Pittig - , Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (Autor:in)
  • Anne Böckler - , Leibniz Universität Hannover (LUH), Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften (Autor:in)


Empathy and Theory of Mind (ToM) are two core components of social understanding. The EmpaToM is a validated social video task that allows for independent manipulation and assessment of the two capacities. First applications revealed that empathy and ToM are dissociable constructs on a neuronal as well as on a behavioral level. As the EmpaToM has been designed for the assessment of social understanding in adults, it has a high degree of complexity and comprises topics that are inadequate for minors. For this reason, we designed a new version of the EmpaToM that is especially suited to measure empathy and ToM in youths. In experiment 1, we successfully validated the EmpaToM-Y on the original EmpaToM in an adult sample (N = 61), revealing a similar pattern of results across tasks and strong correlations of all constructs. As intended, the performance measure for ToM and the control condition of the EmpaToM-Y showed reduced difficulty. In experiment 2, we tested the feasibility of the EmpaToM-Y in a group of teenagers (N = 36). Results indicate a reliable empathy induction and higher demands of ToM questions for adolescents. We provide a promising task for future research targeting inter-individual variability of socio-cognitive and socio-affective capacities as well as their precursors and outcomes in healthy minors and clinical populations.


Seiten (von - bis)2487-2501
FachzeitschriftBehavior research methods
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 4 Mai 2021

Externe IDs

PubMedCentral PMC8613142
Scopus 85105864558



  • Adolescence, Social cognition, Empathy, Social understanding, Theory of Mind, Mentalizing, Development