A new study from the University of Michigan (if you can trust such a source) shows that college-age students show less empathy today than in previous years. USA Today reports:
Sara Konrath, a researcher at the university’s Institute for Social Research, looked at 72 studies that gauged empathy among 14,000 college students in the past 30 years. She found that empathy has been declining — especially since 2000. The research finds that college students today show 40% less empathy vs. students in the 1980s and 1990s. The students are less likely to agree with statements such as “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me” and “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective.”
The study did not evaluate why students are less empathetic, but Konrath says one reason may be that people are having fewer face-to-face interactions, communicating instead through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
This is an interesting study, especially when we begin to consider the possible causes. Is it Facebook and Twitter? Is it the erosion of the family over the years? Is it something else? Read the report in USA Today and let me know what you think.
By the way, if you are older and think that this does not impact you in any way, consider these words from the article:
If people are less empathic, she says, it has implications for America’s aging population, because older people will increasingly rely on younger generations for support and care.
“Empathy is a very important moral trait in terms of everyday caring for people in our environment,” she says.