Appendix A: The Social Decentering Scale – Social Decentering

Appendix A: The Social Decentering Scale

The Social Decentering Scale is a 36-item multidimensional scale where each item includes three dimensions: input, process, and output. Summing specific groups of items produces measures of the seven components that make up the social decentering theory. Respondents are presented with the 36 items and asked to rate each item in terms of how well that item describes their own thoughts and behaviors on a five-point Likert scale.

Researchers interested in assessing just the cognitive dimension of social decentering (perspective-taking) can use just the 18 items constituting the cognitive subscale listed at the end of this section.

Researchers interested in assessing just the affective dimension of social decentering (empathy or affective perspective-taking) can use just the 18 items constituting the affective subscale listed at the end of this section.

Sample Instructions

The following items deal with a person’s ability to relate to others. Read each item carefully and think about how true the statement is in describing you and your experiences. Please be as honest and objective as you can in responding. Use the following scale:

Write the number that reflects how much each statement applies to you in the space provided each tem

Social Decentering Scale Items

__1.I get emotional over almost anybody’s crisis.

__2.I would be likely to feel a rush of excitement and enthusiasm while trying to guess what was making someone I didn’t know shout with joy.

__3.When I hear about other people’s problems that I’ve never personally faced, I imagine what my thoughts would be if I were in their situation.

__4.I have wondered what people in some foreign countries think about various world problems.

__5.Sometimes when I daydream about situations I’ve never experienced before, my daydreams evoke strong emotional reactions in me.

__6.I feel the pain my closest friends feel when they are in trouble.

__7.There are times when I become quite emotional while watching TV shows or movies, though what I feel may not necessarily be the feelings portrayed by the actors.

__8.Sometimes when I’m considering how to react to a person, I plan out what to do, and then imagine how I would feel if someone acted towards me the way I was planning to act.

__9.(Think of a particular close friend.) I try to anticipate and “second guess” what my friend will say in reaction to alternate ways I might phrase a problem I want to discuss with them.

__10.When I watch a news story where a child has just suffered the tragic loss of their parents, I feel some of the same feelings the child is probably feeling.

__11.Sometimes I can understand what others are thinking by recalling the thoughts I have had when I experienced a similar situation.

__12.If I thought about it, I could guess what people one hundred years from now will think about various major events that are occurring now.

__13.I am likely to carefully consider what I know about a friend when planning on how to best approach them for something they might be reluctant to give or lend to me.

__14.I would feel some of the same feelings as a close friend (think of a particular friend) if both his/ her parents were killed in an automobile accident; my friend would probably have some feelings I would not feel, as well.

__15.The way I think and behave serves as my general basis for understanding how people in general think and behave.

__16.I would feel some of the feelings that a senior citizen I was talking to might have upon learning of the death of his/her spouse of 50 years.

__17.I think about how I would handle situations that I hear or read about confronting other people.

__18.When I hear about a person’s problem that is similar to a problem I’ve experienced, I usually recall what I thought and did about my problem.

__19.I usually get as excited as my best friend (think of a particular friend) when I find out something exciting has happened to him/ her.

__20.I get emotionally involved in news stories about the tragedies and joys of other people.

__21.I take into consideration both the situation and a person’s cultural and ethnic background when I’m trying to understand the behavior of someone I don’t know very well.

__22.My emotions are easily aroused when I am imagining myself in another person’s predicament.

__23.(Think of a particular friendship that you have recently developed). I have tried to understand how this person thinks by considering their background, personality, maturity, etc.

__24.I can imagine how some of my attitudes, beliefs, and values might be different than they are if I had been raised in a different country’s culture.

__25.I know my closest friend (think of a particular friend) so well, that I even know how he/ she thinks most of the time.

__26.My emotional state sometimes seems determined by my best friend’s emotional state; when he or she is down, I become down; when he or she is up, I become up.

__27.I know some of the values, attitudes, and thoughts associated with different cultural and ethnic groups.

__28.I have learned about some of my feelings and emotional reactions by putting myself in situations confronting characters in movies and books, and other people in general.

__29.I often think about what it would be like for me to be in other people’s shoes; what I would say and what I would think.

__30.My closet friend and I would probably experience some of the same feelings in reaction to the news that he/she suddenly had come into a large sum of money though my feelings would be different in a few ways.

__31.I tend to feel some of the same pain a parent must feel about the accidental death of one of their children when I read about such a tragedy in the news.

__32.(Think of a close friend who has never been in trouble with the law.) This friend and I would probably have the same emotional reaction to he/ she being mistakenly arrested.

__33.I can tell a lot about a stranger’s attitudes, beliefs and values, after talking to him/ her for just a minute or two.

__34.I pay attention to the things I learn about acquaintances as we become closer, so that I can better understand how they think.

__35.I try to guess what the circumstances might be surrounding a stranger’s public emotional outburst (crying, cheering, etc.) and my speculations would arouse an emotional reaction in me similar to the stranger’s reaction.

__36.I sometimes think about how my closest friend will think about a controversial subject even before we start to discuss it.

Scoring the Social Decentering Scale Measure

Add the responses to the 36 items to get an overall social decentering score. Scores for subscales are calculated by totaling the appropriate list of designated items (the means of each subscale can be used instead of totals to allow for easier comparisons across subscales).

Overall Social Decentering Scale: Sum all 36 items.

Input Subscales (means = total/18)

Experience-Based Subscale: 1, 6, 7, 10, 11, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 33, 34

Imagination-Based Subscale: 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 22, 24, 29, 30, 32, 35, 36

Process Subscales (means = total/12)

Use of Self Subscale: 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 11, 15, 17, 18, 22, 28, 29

Use of Specific Other Subscale: 6, 9, 13, 14, 19, 23, 25, 26, 30, 32, 34, 36

Use of Generalized Others Subscale: 2, 4, 10, 12, 16, 20, 21, 24, 27, 31, 33, 35

Output Subscales (means = total/18)

Cognitive Subscale: 3, 4, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 21, 23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 33, 34, 36

Affective Subscale: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 14, 16, 19, 20, 22, 26, 28, 30, 31, 32, 35