Evaluating empathy in colombian ex-combatants: Examination of the internal structure of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) in Spanish

Mauricio A. Garcia-Barrera, Justin E. Karr, Natalia Trujillo-Orrego, Sandra Trujillo-Orrego, David A. Pineda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The Republic of Colombia has a long-standing history of internal armed conflict, further complicated by the ideological assumptions underlying their war. In recent years, its government designed the Program for Reincorporation to Civilian Life (Programa para la Reincorporación a la Vida Civil, PRVC), aiming demobilization of thousands of insurgents who were involved in guerilla and paramilitary forces. One PRVC goal involves the psychological characterization of its reincorporated members, aiming the informed design of effective and efficacious interventions to improve their adjustment. We are interested in the examination of empathy in this population. Empathy refers to the ability to predict, understand, and experience other's feelings. Empathy appears to have an effect on level of aggressive behavior. The Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI; Davis, 1980, 1983) is a well-established 28-item self-report tool for the assessment of empathy, including 4 scales: Perspective Taking, Fantasy, Empathic Concern, and Personal Distress. Versions in Spanish were validated in Spain and Chile, but no norms for Colombians exist. We examined the factorial structure of the IRI in a sample of 548 (83.4% males) members of the PRVC. Ten items with low factor loadings were eliminated following a series of confirmatory factor analyses (CFA). The final 4-factor model (Model 2) reached an acceptable fit (e.g., CFI = .898). A second-order CFA demonstrated that empathic concern correlated too high with a common "empathy" latent factor. With these results at hand, our 18-item IRI version in Spanish achieved a factorial structure comparable to that previously validated for Spanish speakers from other countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-122
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Assessment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.


  • Civil war
  • Colombia
  • Cross-cultural validation
  • Empathy
  • Interpersonal reactivity index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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