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Type of Measure: According to the empathizing-systemizing theory (E-S theory), there are individual differences in the wiring of the brain that result in two different modes a person may process information: empathizing and systemizing. Empathizing is the drive to identify another person’s emotions and thoughts and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion. Systemizing, however, is the drive to analyse the variables in a system and to derive the underlying rules that govern the behaviour of a system. Systemizing also refers to the drive to construct systems. Systemizing allows you to predict the behaviour of a system, and to control it. Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are believed to have less ability to empathize and be more systemizing than the general population (Baron-Cohen, Richler, Bisarya, Gurunathan, & Wheelwright, 2003). In conjunction with the Empathizing Quotient (EQ), the Systemizing Quotient (SQ) was designed to test the E-S theory.

The SQ-Adolescent Version was designed to be short, easy to complete, and easy to score. The 39-item questionnaire is Likert format and contains a list of statements about real life situations, experiences, and interests where sympathizing abilities are required. Parents are asked to indicate how strongly they agree with each statement about their child by ticking one of four options: ‘definitely agree’, ‘slightly agree’, ‘slightly disagree’, or ‘definitely disagree’. Each of the items scores 1 point if the respondent records the behavior mildly, or 2 points if the respondent records the behavior strongly. To avoid a response bias, approximately half the items were worded to produce a ‘‘disagree’’ response and half to produce an ‘‘agree’’ response. The questionnaires were adapted from the adult and child versions of the SQ. Items were revised to be age-appropriate but kept as close to the Adult and Child versions as possible, with most questions aimed at the same behaviors. The maximum score for this questionnaire is 78.

Target Population: Adolesents with normal intelligence ages 12-16

Measurement properties and previous use: Auyeung, Allision, Wheelwright, and Baron-Cohen (2012) examined the psychometric properties of the SQ-Adolescent Version in a sample of mothers of adolescents between 12 and 16 years of age (M = 14.08, SD = 1.25), comprising 2 groups: typically developing adolescents or adolescents with ASC, as diagnosed by psychiatrists or an appropriate clinician (e.g. clinical psychologists) using established criteria.

Using data from the typically developing group, an item analysis was conducted to examine if there were items that could be eliminated to reduce the length of the questionnaires. Items with corrected item-total correlation value below 0.3 were not included when calculating total scores. For the SQ, the excluded items were numbers 3, 5, 8, 18, 22, 25, 28, 31, 35, 38, 40, 44, 45, 48, 50 and 52, with 39 remaining items. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients were calculated using the retained items, and showed high internal consistency (alpha = 0.89).

Six months after initial contact, n = 375 participants from the typically developing group were asked to complete a second copy of the SQ in order to examine test–retest reliability, resulting in 333 test–retest pairs (171 girls, 162 boys). Intra-class correlations for the SQ (r = 0.94, p < 0.001) demonstrated good test–retest reliability.

A one-way between subjects analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to examine if group (typical girls, typical boys, girls with ASC and boys with ASC) differences existed. There was a significant difference between groups F(3,1239) = 49.61, p<0.001). Post hoc Tukey HSD tests showed significant differences (p < 0.001) with with typical boys (M = 27.22, SD = 12.71) scoring higher than typical girls (M = 21.64, SD = 12.05). No difference between girls with ASC and typically developing boys (p<0.05) was observed. Boys with ASC (M = 34.69, SD = 15.45) scored significantly higher than typical girls and boys (p <0.001). No significant differences were found between boys and girls with ASC (p <0.05)

The authors therefore concluded that, like the child and adult versions, these measures show good variability, internal consistency, and test retest reliability.

Languages: English

Authors and Citation: Auyeung, B., Allison, C., Wheelwright, S., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2012). Brief report: development of the adolescent empathy and systemizing quotients. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 42(10), 2225-2235.

Licence: This measure is freely available online, and may be used along with proper citiation. You are welcome to download these tests provided that they are used for genuine research purposes, and provided due acknowledgement of Autism Research Centre (ARC) as the source is given.

Link to measure: Systemizing Quotient for Adolescents (SQ-Adolescent Version)

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