Welcome to EMPATHS (EMPATHS: Machine-readable Publications for Analysis, Teaching, Hypothesizing, and Synthesis). We are an ARCHEOLOGISTS subgroup of people conducting a series of systematic reviews on Empathy while simultaneously building the infrastructure, tools, and community that will facilitate future evidence synthesis, theorizing and methodological development in empathy research.

In the empathy literature, there is little consistency in the way studies define, measure, and manipulate empathy. EMPATHS aims to produce a publicly accessible, machine-readable database of empathy research that retains this heterogeneity. Our goal is for this database to serve as a valuable resource for the broader research community that can facilitate conceptual clarification and development of valid measurement instruments and manipulations. It will also serve as the launching pad for a series of efficient and reproducible systematic reviews.

We will start with one large-scale scoping review (EMPATHS-1) to map the literature in regards to the definitions, measures, and manipulations used in empathy research. EMPATHS-1 will then be followed by a series of targeted systematic reviews and meta-analyses in consecutive EMPATHS projects. Potential questions to explore could be how different components of empathy affect various outcome measures differentially or which factors facilitate or impede empathy, and will depend on the various interests of EMPATHS members.



Empathy plays a pivotal role in people’s socio-emotional well-being. In light of its significance, research on empathy has experienced considerable growth in the last two decades. Yet, the existing literature lacks clear construct definitions and agreed-upon measures that capture the multifaceted nature of empathy. There is a growing consensus suggesting that empathy can be viewed as a broad, overarching term encompassing at least two distinct sub-constructs that represent critical dimensions of empathy: an affective component involving emotions, a cognitive component related to understanding, and the act of sharing experiences. Additionally, an increasing number of researchers suggest that a certain degree of self-other differentiation and a motivational component – the desire to promote others’ well-being or alleviate their suffering is often integral to the empathic experience. Despite this conceptual framework, the extent to which empirical studies align with this view of empathy and its constituent elements remains unclear. We plan to conduct a large-scale scoping review to evaluate how empirical research approaches the measurement and manipulation of empathy and its components. Our review addresses questions regarding which components of empathy receive significant attention and which remain underexplored, as well as how these components are operationalized and measured. Furthermore, this scoping review will culminate in creating a publicly accessible database containing machine-readable data, which can serve as a valuable resource for future systematic reviews and meta-analyses (see the procedure section).


For this first systematic review (see abstract), people can join until May 01 2024.

The detailed procedures for EMPATHS 1 can be found in the preregistration draft document.

To create files with machine-readable extracted entities, we use the {metabefor} R package. Additional information on this approach and the tools we use can be found in the in-progress SysRevving book (also see the the ARCHEOLOGISTS main page for more on the motivation behind our approach.

Authorship and Contributions:

We will use the Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT) for author contribution. The tasks in this project are described at comma-spec-general-systematic-review. We will use {comma} to map tasks onto the relevant CRediT categories and document contributions. For more information on {comma} see https://comma.opens.science.


For the extraction, we will use the {metabefor} package. This package allows the specification of the entities to be extracted in a spreadsheet format. This specification is then converted into an R eXtraction Script (an RXS file) using the {metabefor} package or the ToRXS app. The resulting template is then completed once for each source (e.g. article), resulting in a machine-readable plain-text file. This can be validated in R, or by using the EVA app. We use Short DOIs as the unique source identifier in each RXS file, which we will use to merge subsequent extraction scripts into the primary database from this project, enriching it with more detailed extracted information.

Entities we will extract

The entities that we plan to extract are described at rxs-spec-ARCHEOLOGISTS—EMPATHS-1.

List of measures

The list of measures we extract is at https://archeologists.opens.science/empathy-measures


Please see this google doc located here for working notes and additional information on EMPATHS-1