Are you an empath?

July 21, 2014


After studying empathy and emotions for four decades, I’ve developed a very simple and accurate way to tell if you’re an empath.

Are you ready to find out?

Karla McLaren’s Amazingly Accurate Quiz for Empaths


Question 1: Are you breathing? Yes/No (choose one)

Yes? You’re an empath.

No? Take a breath and start over at Question 1. (spoiler alert)

Congratulations! You’re an empath!

That’s a joke, and yet I’m also being serious. Empathy isn’t a magical skill that only special people possess. Empathy is a central feature of human intelligence and communication.

Empathy is the social and emotional glue that helps us understand each other. It’s a skill and a trait that we all possess to varying degrees – and it’s a trait that’s shared by many of our animal friends as well.

In The Art of Empathy, I define empathy in this way:

Empathy is a social and emotional skill that helps us feel and understand the emotions, circumstances, intentions, thoughts, and needs of others, such that we can offer sensitive, perceptive, and appropriate communication and support.

We’re all empathic; we have to be in order to navigate our way through the social world. We all read emotions, intentions, nuance, and so forth – because empathy is a part of our capacity to connect to, interact with, and understand others and social situations.

We all have empathic skills, and we’re all empaths to varying degrees. Some of us miss social cues or misidentify emotions, and some of us are so hyper-empathic that we can feel overwhelmed by the emotions and situations of others, but we’re all empaths.

There’s a longer quiz at the bottom of this page, but we’ve gotten the most important part out of the way: Yes, you’re an empath.

What is an empath? And what’s a hyper-empath?

An empath is someone who is aware that he or she reads emotions, nuance, subtext, undercurrent, intentions, thoughts, social space, interactions, relational behaviors, body language, and gestural language. A hyper-empath is someone who reads these things to a greater degree than is deemed normal.

For me as a lifelong hyper-empath, emotions, nuance, subtext, and so forth are the things I notice first in any situation. Words are interesting, but in many cases, they tend to hide and obscure the more subtle aspects of communication and social interaction.

For me, there’s a wonderfully surprising world that exists in the space between words, and it’s the space where my attention is nearly always drawn. But that’s not true for everyone; each of us has our own relationship with our empathic abilities.

There’s also Einfühlung, or your capacity to use your empathic abilities on not just humans, but on animals, art, music, mathematics, dance, movement, nature, systems, ideas, and so forth. Empathy is a skill that can be used in many ways, and the good news is that you can develop (or calm down) your empathic skills at any point in your life.

Introducing the real empathy quiz

I created this quiz to help you assess your current level of empathic abilities — but don’t treat it as the final word!

Your empathic abilities can and do change, and if you observe yourself, you’ll see that your empathy levels can change from day to day, or even in the middle of a single conversation! This quiz is just a snapshot of your current situation; your empathic abilities are malleable, and no matter where you start, you can become more comfortable and skilled with your empathy.

As you’ll learn, there’s a sweet spot with empathic skills – a juuuust right place where your empathy is neither too cold nor too hot. As you answer each of the 43 questions in this quiz, from Less True to More True, remember that you can modify your empathy if it’s not working for you (or for others). Empathy is a pliable skill.

How Empathic Are You?

The 43 questions in this quiz will help you identify your current level of empathic ability. Remember that your score is a snapshot of the current moment; you can change, increase, or calm down your empathic abilities at any point in your life.




Marlene Sanchez February 20, 2017 at 9:59 am

Hi Karla
I am sooo Grateful for you and your work!!!

I was fortunate early in my life to be allowed to keep as many cats as possible in the house as in the area where I was living it was vermin city so at one time I had over 27 cats that were my friends and confidants…
I also love Aquariums and Gardening, Essentially everything that grows…

I am an Artist, started as a clay person and also now more dedicated to painting, I also work with People with special needs in a career that I fell into by default but have been serving in for over 30 years, all while I grew my skills and my business, Earth Bound Works (aptly named because being in human form is a great way to grow a soul, lol and connection to the senses is key to articulation) that I developed when I started selling my pottery and also, growing another product derived from Iceskating to deal with facing my fear and staying in my body. The flying sensation, the release was amazing. This line of products that I have been promoting for over 14 years right along side with my clay Painting and drawing.

I have gotten a great deal of help in sorting out my feelings and emotions yet I feel I am still disallowing a great deal of my internal power. I feel my basic problem is one of focus, or inability to make a decision and not feel like I am “forcing” it on my self which I immediately resent, yet I have real challenges completing things for the World on the business stage. At this point in my life I feel like there are things that I want… but the blocks are “invisible to me” and I don’t understand what I am doing….So this morning I open onto the chapter of Confusion in your “Language of Emotions” book. As I write I feel pressure on my “third eye” telling me that I am correct in writing here, it just go stronger… 🙂

At this time in my life I need to embrace receiving and getting help and… I am just confused about what to do… I love all I do but we are limited in time as humans and I feel blocked to know what I want “really” do and I feel like I need to provide better for my self and the business relationships come very hard for me… Do you have any thing to say around this?
I will continue reading about “Confusion”, yet I could not stop my self from writing to you here…
Thank you again for being you and doing your brilliant world and for Shining on me

Karla February 20, 2017 at 11:22 am

Hello Marlene,

How lucky you are to have been surrounded by art and animals! And yes, confusion can be a difficult one, but I see it as a kind of impressionistic painting; sometimes, things don’t need to be in sharp focus.

The question for confusion is about your intention; what is it? What’s most important? Often, if you discover your clear intention, the confusion will lift.

But sometimes it won’t, and it’s important to have room for it, and to let yourself be an impressionistic painting for a while until the intention returns.

As for business, it can help to talk to a business planner or consultant who might be able to see things that are not obvious to you as you’re doing the day to day work. That kind of eagle-eyed vision can be a real support.

Take care!

Sheila Caldwell March 1, 2017 at 2:49 am

This questionnaire helped me immensely emotionally & opened a beautiful understanding of who I am & not be afraid of my gifts to relate to my family that I hold so dear & close to my heart. I don’t feel intimidated by my abilities to interact with family & new acquaintances any longer. It has cleared my thought process & I now know there is no longer an abstract & confusing feeling in observing family or friends & the choices & misconceptions concerning my way of dealing with the curve balls that have been thrown at me throughout my life!

Karla March 1, 2017 at 8:56 am

Hello Shelia, and welcome!

I’m so glad that the questionnaire was supportive for you!

Leann April 5, 2017 at 12:46 pm

I just took this quiz and scored very high. I am just realizing that I am an empath and think I can be hyper. I am struggling with my life and having such feeling as I don’t think I show it necessarily to others yet I struggle with boundaries and choices and have always done so. I am too caught up in hurting other people and often end up hurting myself. I follow the politics closely and am at a point where I cannot as it is affecting me so deeply. The choices being made by the USA lately are really scaring me and I feel so sad for so many people who are simply trying to survive in this world. I need advice on how to manage these intense feelings- I have deep guilt, sadness and am not sure how to rid myself of this. I want to be a light hearted mother to my children and just feel so heavy. Is there a medication to assist?

Karla April 7, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Hello Leann, and welcome to the empath clan. Don’t feel bad because you haven’t figured out how to work with your empathy comfortably — we’re not taught to. It’s a learning process.

Yes, it’s a harsh time here in the US, and healthy empathic people are more necessary than ever, so take time to care for yourself. This may include counseling, self-care, and medication if you need it.

Feeling intense feelings is a gift, though it doesn’t feel that way if you haven’t been taught how to work with them. I’ve made a free video series on YouTube where I talk about each of the emotions and how to work with them, and that may be helpful. Here’s my channel: Emotion Dynamics on YouTube

Take care and know that you’ll be able to learn how to work with your empathy and your emotions. You already have the capacity; you just need some helpful information that supports you.

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