Reference values regarding measure of basic empathy scale in forensic adolescents

Andreia Azeredo, Patrícia Figueiredo, Eduarda Ramião, Diana Moreira*, Ricardo Barroso, Fernando Barbosa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Empathy is generally deemed a multidimensional construct, involving affective processes (i.e., the sharing of the emotional state of another) and a cognitive process (i.e., the ability to understand another's emotional state). Empathy can be measured, and people with higher levels of empathy are expected to act in a more responsive way to the perceived feelings of another. Empathic dysfunction has been associated with conduct disorder (CD), antisocial personality disorder, acquired sociopathy, as well as diverse clinical conditions. Besides problems in social communication/interaction, resulting in unstable and impaired relationships, a lack of empathy is often associated with callous and unemotional behavior, violence, aggression, and criminality. The wide use of Basic Empathy Scale (BES) to assess adolescents with CD and/or disruptive behavior disorder, especially in forensic settings, led us to systematically review its results in order to establish reference values for this scale. A systematic review was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic review and Meta-Analysis for Protocols (PRISMA-P) and Cochrane collaboration guidelines, gathering 14 studies using the BES to assess empathy in adolescents with CD/disruptive behavior disorder. Developing reference data for BES may be particularly important to draw valid conclusions on the characteristics of adolescent assessed in clinical or forensic settings, particularly because BES is largely used in evaluation procedures in these settings.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalProfessional Psychology: Research and Practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Dec 2022


  • BES
  • Empathy
  • Reference values


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