03 January, 2011

I think if you googled the word "boring" you would find this blog

On my school's gossip/general anonymous noodling forum, someone posted an Empathy Quotient test by Simon Baron-Cohen. Like all annoying "quotient" tests by Simon Baron-Cohen, this asks you to strongly or slightly agree or disagree with a number of statements about yourself.

I think first of you know that I'm going to reply to statements like, "I don't tend to find social situations confusing," with, "What kind of social situation are you referring to?" Even the most ridiculous Baron-Cohen stereotype can be pretty un-confused if he hangs out at the comic book store playing D&D. Despite the fact that I am very comfortable in almost every social situation I regularly find myself in, I generally find myself writing down that I do find social situations confusing, because it's such a super broad question and I think I might find the kind of situations Simon Baron-Cohen thinks are real social situations to be confusing? Maybe? I don't know?

Also, this: "If I see a stranger in a group, I think that it is up to them to make an effort to join in." This is an opinion and doesn't have to do with being able to "read" people or sense their feelings.

But never mind. My normal "social skills don't exist" racket is not the motivation for me telling you about the Empathy Quotient. Instead, I'd like to show you some of the other statements that Simon Baron-Cohen thinks are somehow related to socializing and empathy:

I am at my best first thing in the morning.
I would never break a law, no matter how minor.
I live life for today rather than the future.
I like to do things on the spur of the moment.
I can't relax until I have done everything I had planned to do that day.
I often start new hobbies but quickly become bored with them and move on to something else.
I would be too nervous to go on a big roller coaster.
I like to be very organized in day-to-day life and often make lists of the chores I have to do.
I don't like to take risks.
Before making a decision I always weigh up the pros and cons.

I don't think I need to overexplain this. It's poor methods, to say the least.

eta: just kidding, Zoe explained to me why I'm wrong and these are actually the filler questions. I'm kind of relieved SBC isn't exactly 100% as dumb as I thought he was after reading this test.


  1. The questions you italicized are the filler questions. I just tried to look up the scoring for the EQ test and I couldn't get access to it at home, but when you're back at college you'll probably be able to find it on the internet.

    There's some reason that psych questionnaires have to have filler questions -- I forget why, but anyway, those are legit. It's the non-filler questions that I find weird. I actually found it pretty offensive that Baron-Cohen would put "I find it easy to tell when someone is masking their true emotions" in the same questionnaire as "It upsets me to see an animal in pain." Because, how the hell are those the same thing?

    You're right about social situations too -- I feel very comfortable spending time with my friends or (usually) my family, but I think SBC would still say I'm uncomfortable in social situations? Basically, he bothers me.

  2. I forgot to say 2 things.

    1) This blog is not boring it just isn't so there.

    2) One of the incredibly bothersome things about the IQ test is the circular logic behind it. SBC has said that you can tell autistic people lack empathy because they score low on the EQ test, AND that you can tell the EQ test is valid because autistic people score low.

    I may be slightly obsessed with the EQ and know far too much about it.

  3. ...Or, I mean, what if you can handle social situations okay but really don't *like* them? Or what if you know you don't have a normal way of interacting with other people and that you sometimes miss nuances of etiquette but you still enjoy socializing and are usually well-received?

    It sounds more like a question for sorting introverts from extroverts to *me.*

    (Also, congratulations on getting baptized, dude.)

  4. The filler questions in the questionnaires are (in part) to tell if the person is telling the truth or not. So they come in quite inoffensive and do not announce themselves. This is probably one purpose I'm aware of.

    The questionnaire I took yesterday is the Negaholic one. It was forced choice (yes-no).

    (And the Baron-Cohen SQ/EQ was un-annoying for me at least because of the "slightly" angle).