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Gingersnap
06-02-2010, 04:51 PM
Today's College Students Lack Empathy

By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Managing Editor

posted: 28 May 2010 08:05 am ET

College students today are less likely to "get" the emotions of others than their counterparts 20 and 30 years ago, a new review study suggests.

Specifically, today's students scored 40 percent lower on a measure of empathy than their elders did.

The findings are based on a review of 72 studies of 14,000 American college students overall conducted between 1979 and 2009.

"We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000," said Sara Konrath, a researcher at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.

The study was presented this week at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in Boston.

Is "generation me" all about me?

Compared with college students of the late 1970s, current students are less likely to agree with statements such as "I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective," and "I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me."

"Many people see the current group of college students – sometimes called 'Generation Me' – as one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history," said Konrath, who is also affiliated with the University of Rochester Department of Psychiatry.

Konrath's colleague graduate student Edward O'Brien added, "It's not surprising that this growing emphasis on the self is accompanied by a corresponding devaluation of others.”

Other recent studies have shown mixed results on the character of today's youth. For instance, one study of more than 450,000 high-school seniors born at different time periods showed today’s youth are no more self-centered than their parents were at their age.

The role of media

Even so, Konrath and O'Brien suggest several reasons for the lower empathy they found, including the ever-increasing exposure to media in the current generation.

"Compared to 30 years ago, the average American now is exposed to three times as much nonwork-related information," Konrath said. "In terms of media content, this generation of college students grew up with video games, and a growing body of research, including work done by my colleagues at Michigan, is establishing that exposure to violent media numbs people to the pain of others."

The rise in social media could also play a role.

"The ease of having 'friends' online might make people more likely to just tune out when they don't feel like responding to others' problems, a behavior that could carry over offline," O'Brien said.

Live Science (http://www.livescience.com/culture/empathy-college-students-generation-me-100528.html)

warpig
06-02-2010, 06:49 PM
They have fewer struggles and mom and dad always bail them out. What do they know of hardship??

Gingersnap
06-02-2010, 09:01 PM
They have fewer struggles and mom and dad always bail them out. What do they know of hardship??

That can make for spoiled attitudes but the cult of self-esteem is a lot worse to deal with. It's always annoying to deal with employees who fall apart when they are even mildly criticized; a large group who sincerely believes that they are competent when faced with the bald facts of failure would be awful.

I've run into it in tutoring. Some kids sincerely believe that they can make up literally years of math avoidance with a couple of months of one-on-one work. It was shocking the first couple of times it happened. My goal was to take math illiterates to the point where they could stagger through community college remedial math. They thought they could go from no understanding of fractions to college algebra in a few months. They absolutely believed it. :eek:

noonwitch
06-03-2010, 09:05 AM
That can make for spoiled attitudes but the cult of self-esteem is a lot worse to deal with. It's always annoying to deal with employees who fall apart when they are even mildly criticized; a large group who sincerely believes that they are competent when faced with the bald facts of failure would be awful.

I've run into it in tutoring. Some kids sincerely believe that they can make up literally years of math avoidance with a couple of months of one-on-one work. It was shocking the first couple of times it happened. My goal was to take math illiterates to the point where they could stagger through community college remedial math. They thought they could go from no understanding of fractions to college algebra in a few months. They absolutely believed it. :eek:



The best math teacher I ever had was able to make up for about 3 years of bad teaching in one year. She got me to understand fractions well enough to make it into an advanced math class the next year. It involved two days a week of after school work, but she was a great teacher.

linda22003
06-03-2010, 09:08 AM
They thought they could go from no understanding of fractions to college algebra in a few months. They absolutely believed it. :eek:

How bizarre. I have NEVER believed I could do college algebra. :eek:

Gingersnap
06-03-2010, 09:48 AM
How bizarre. I have NEVER believed I could do college algebra. :eek:

You could do it. Everybody can get to the point of doing average work in college algebra. Most people can grasp calculus with some work. Beyond that, though, you really have to have a taste for it.

PoliCon
06-03-2010, 10:16 AM
Empathy is good in it's proper place. Personally, I prefer students to think over those who feel and end up spending way too much time breaking them of that bad habit.

Wei Wu Wei
06-04-2010, 01:31 AM
not surprising one bit.

Wei Wu Wei
06-04-2010, 01:33 AM
Compared with college students of the late 1970s, current students are less likely to agree with statements such as "I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective," and "I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me."

They're called bootstraps buddy, use em. :toughguy:

Elspeth
06-04-2010, 01:57 AM
I wonder how much this has to do with a lack of religion in their lives. The one place we learn to care about the less fortunate and care for them as humans is within our religious traditions. Both Judaism and Christianity have an emphasis on doing "good works" or miztvahs and on taking care of the "widow and orphan." Without religious anchors, many folks have no philosophical framework for caring about others in a genuine way. When you believe that we are all children of God, it creates a sense of community that requires a response to the feelings of others. Politically correct schooling is no substitute.

Gingersnap
06-04-2010, 09:47 AM
I wonder how much this has to do with a lack of religion in their lives. The one place we learn to care about the less fortunate and care for them as humans is within our religious traditions. Both Judaism and Christianity have an emphasis on doing "good works" or miztvahs and on taking care of the "widow and orphan." Without religious anchors, many folks have no philosophical framework for caring about others in a genuine way. When you believe that we are all children of God, it creates a sense of community that requires a response to the feelings of others. Politically correct schooling is no substitute.

That's probably part of it. The seriously chaotic lives a lot of kids have probably plays a part too. Too many kids are shuttled from one parent to another and have to interact with random half-sibs and parental lovers. When people just revolve in and out of your life constantly, I would guess that you'd stop caring so much about them and that you'd focus on your own life more. That would be something you might have some control over. :(

enslaved1
06-05-2010, 12:22 AM
Elspeth & Ginger:
I think it's a big part of it. When the only thing kids learn growing up is that they are animals who randomly happened to develop more brain cells than some others, and this temporary existance is all there is, it's little wonder that as young adults, they have no interest or ability in other people's emotions. The modern (lack of) family, stemming from that same lack of faith/morals/ect builds up a serious "I'm the only one I can count on and that matters" attitude as well.

Gingersnap
06-05-2010, 12:33 AM
Elspeth & Ginger:
I think it's a big part of it. When the only thing kids learn growing up is that they are animals who randomly happened to develop more brain cells than some others, and this temporary existance is all there is, it's little wonder that as young adults, they have no interest or ability in other people's emotions. The modern (lack of) family, stemming from that same lack of faith/morals/ect builds up a serious "I'm the only one I can count on and that matters" attitude as well.

You're right, it's both. Doc is a great dog but he would be perfectly "okay" with having his co-dogs starve to death if they didn't attack him for his food. Doc lacks empathy.

Doc is totally cool as dog, however. Do we really want humans like that?

Wei Wu Wei
06-05-2010, 03:41 PM
Elspeth & Ginger:
I think it's a big part of it. When the only thing kids learn growing up is that they are animals who randomly happened to develop more brain cells than some others, and this temporary existance is all there is, it's little wonder that as young adults, they have no interest or ability in other people's emotions. The modern (lack of) family, stemming from that same lack of faith/morals/ect builds up a serious "I'm the only one I can count on and that matters" attitude as well.

There are religions that teach the commonality and even oneness of humanity without appealing to a God, a "plan", and that perfectly match well with established scientific understanding.

Also, we are animals and we did develop bigger brains via evolution, as for this existence being temporary an all there is, sure I agree with that but that's not something taught in school, and I don't consider that to be a necessary conflict with any of the major religions.

Wei Wu Wei
06-05-2010, 03:41 PM
You're right, it's both. Doc is a great dog but he would be perfectly "okay" with having his co-dogs starve to death if they didn't attack him for his food. Doc lacks empathy.

Doc is totally cool as dog, however. Do we really want humans like that?

Many other animals demonstrate empathy by any measure

PoliCon
06-05-2010, 04:28 PM
Many other animals demonstrate empathy by any measure

bullshit. More empty claims by wee wee. :rolleyes:

warpig
06-05-2010, 07:04 PM
This topic prompted a conversation with my 22 yr old son. The point of the conversation was young peoples inability to take criticism. His view was that through the electronic media like Facebook, My Space etc.these kids are allowed to create an artificial personality which sets standards they cannot meet combined with the ability to manipulate their "personalities" so criticism never really occurs. Especially since in electronic conversations the other person cannot see your body language or you theirs which allows someone to live a lie.
Then when confronted with real life situations there is no place to hide and they fall apart.

Elspeth
06-05-2010, 08:29 PM
There are religions that teach the commonality and even oneness of humanity without appealing to a God, a "plan", and that perfectly match well with established scientific understanding.

And this addresses the question of American kids and their lack of empathy how? :confused:


Also, we are animals and we did develop bigger brains via evolution, as for this existence being temporary an all there is, sure I agree with that but that's not something taught in school, and I don't consider that to be a necessary conflict with any of the major religions.


As my favorite aunt used to say, "A nonsequitur is better than no sequitur at all." :rolleyes:

When you find a decent sequitur, let me know. :D

Wei Wu Wei
06-05-2010, 09:35 PM
And this addresses the question of American kids and their lack of empathy how? :confused:

It addresses the idea posted in this thread that a cause of the lack of empathy is a lack of religion, in part caused by non-religion scientific classes teach non-religious scientific theories leading to our modern understanding of nature.




As my favorite aunt used to say, "A nonsequitur is better than no sequitur at all." :rolleyes:

When you find a decent sequitur, let me know. :D

I'm responding to other posts in this thread, I know it can be confusing, but it just might be the post I quoted that I was responding to.

Wei Wu Wei
06-05-2010, 09:42 PM
This topic prompted a conversation with my 22 yr old son. The point of the conversation was young peoples inability to take criticism. His view was that through the electronic media like Facebook, My Space etc.these kids are allowed to create an artificial personality which sets standards they cannot meet combined with the ability to manipulate their "personalities" so criticism never really occurs. Especially since in electronic conversations the other person cannot see your body language or you theirs which allows someone to live a lie.
Then when confronted with real life situations there is no place to hide and they fall apart.

I agree.

wilbur
06-05-2010, 10:39 PM
... When the only thing kids learn growing up is that they are animals who randomly happened to develop more brain cells than some others, and this temporary existance is all there is, it's little wonder that as young adults, they have no interest or ability in other people's emotions. ...

First, I don't think most kids really learn these things growing up at all. Even among the youth of today, I doubt most believe that this is their only life.

Second, this is the sort emotional reaction that apologists and the like *love* to tell people that they *should* have towards life, if evolution, materialism, and/or atheism is true, but in practice, it seems to happen very infrequently. All that stuff is just far less scary than your priest wants you to believe.

Third, there's no obvious connection between lifespan and capacity for empathy. If one came to discover that they had an endless lifespan, I feel pretty confident that the revelation would *not* suddenly increase that person's capacity for empathy, or vice versa. One has nothing to do with the other.