Study Finds Fast-Increasing ‘Empathy Deficit’ Among Young Adults

dirty-tricks-of-psychology-for-mind-reading-and-the-roots-of-empathyAs the human species progresses faster and faster in terms of technological achievements, one of our most defining abilities seems to be quickly crumbling: the capacity to understand and care about other people. Scientific American delves into the gaping emotional void:

Humans are unlikely to win the animal kingdom’s prize for fastest, strongest or largest, but we are world champions at understanding one another. This interpersonal prowess is fueled, at least in part, by empathy: our tendency to care about and share other people’s emotional experiences. Empathy is a cornerstone of human behavior and has long been considered innate. A forthcoming study, however, challenges this assumption by demonstrating that empathy levels have been declining over the past 30 years.

The research, led by Sara H. Konrath of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and published online in August in Personality and Social Psychology Review, found that college students’ self-reported empathy has declined since 1980, with an especially steep drop in the past 10 years. To make matters worse, during this same period students’ self-reported narcissism has reached new heights, according to research by Jean M. Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University.

An individual’s empathy can be assessed in many ways, but one of the most popular is simply asking people what they think of themselves. The Interpersonal Reactivity Index, a well-known questionnaire, taps empathy by asking whether responders agree to statements such as “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me” and “I try to look at everybody’s side of a disagreement before I make a decision.” People vary a great deal in how empathic they consider themselves. Moreover, research confirms that the people who say they are empathic actually demonstrate empathy in discernible ways, ranging from mimicking others’ postures to helping people in need (for example, offering to take notes for a sick fellow student).

Since the creation of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index in 1979, tens of thousands of students have filled out this questionnaire while participating in studies examining everything from neural responses to others’ pain to levels of social conservatism. Konrath and her colleagues took advantage of this wealth of data by collating self-reported empathy scores of nearly 14,000 students. She then used a technique known as cross-temporal meta-analysis to measure whether scores have changed over the years. The results were startling: almost 75 percent of students today rate themselves as less empathic than the average student 30 years ago.

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  • Liam_McGonagle

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. Why the Fuck should I give a shit about this?

    Oh, wait a minute . . .

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      I just lawled :-)

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. Why the Fuck should I give a shit about this?

    Oh, wait a minute . . .

  • Belcat

    We are constantly bombarded by how other people are worst off than us, so the natural reaction is to shield ourselves and tune them out. This would definitely make us think we are less empathic, but is it really so?

    • old gregg

      Exactly, not to mention the soap operas & ‘reality’ shows. You do just stop caring after a while.

      • DMD

        Yeah, you stop caring about TV. What does that have to do with real life?

        • http://drwho.virtadpt.net/ The Doctor

          How many people can still tell the difference?

      • WhiteRose

        Reality shows aren’t even real anymore… back when MTV first started with the Real World now that was reality TV!

    • Ben45

      So what you’re saying is tune out from our lives the poor, the needy, the sick, the elderly, the dying? This is the exact point the article goes on to talk about. How we are becoming less and less caring of others and basically only thinking of ourselves. As goes the expression: “It’s all about ME.” Right?

  • Belcat

    We are constantly bombarded by how other people are worst off than us, so the natural reaction is to shield ourselves and tune them out. This would definitely make us think we are less empathic, but is it really so?

  • Andrew

    It ain’t just in young adults.

    • Ben45

      It is *NOT* just in young adults.

      • Andrew

        I don’t care.

        • Tuna Ghost

          *trombone sound* wah wah wah waaaaaaaahh

  • Andrew

    It ain’t just in young adults.

  • Hadrian999

    when people are raised in a society that idolizes people who screw over the most people to get to the top is it any wonder we start to see other people as either tools or obstacles and not as people.
    our new goal is to go to work,make as much money as possible by any means necessary, go home to our mcmansion inside our gated community , sending our kids to private schools isolated from our lessers.

  • Hadrian999

    when people are raised in a society that idolizes people who screw over the most people to get to the top is it any we start to see other people as either tools or obstacles and not as people.

  • Dr. Quack

    Even more startlingly – a corresponding study finds that 70 % of bored students, coerced into filling out stupid questionnaire forms by their lame teachers have been providing increasingly decietful answers to the scientists who expect teenagers to take them seriously enough to answer very personal questions asked of them by clueless scientists.
    By 2020 we expect every last teenager to lie like crazy in any such study, thereby making the extrapolation of results, by inferring the exact opposite of every answer provided to be a certainty.

    • quartz99

      um, not sure what this has to do with the story since study participants in these sorts of programs are volunteers, not to mention they’re college students, not high school which seems to be what you’re implying… Students in the psychology and sociology programs conduct or help conduct experiments as part of their course of study and this researcher pulled from decades of results from previous studies at the same college… this isn’t some questionnaire administered to “bored teenagers” like some kind of unavoidable exam…

  • Dr. Quack

    Even more startlingly – a corresponding study finds that 70 % of bored students, coerced into filling out stupid questionnaire forms by their lame teachers have been providing increasingly decietful answers to the scientists who expect teenagers to take them seriously enough to answer very personal questions asked of them by clueless scientists.
    By 2020 we expect every last teenager to lie like crazy in any such study, thereby making the extrapolation of results, by inferring the exact opposite of every answer provided to be a certainty.

  • Dr. Quack

    Even more startlingly – a corresponding study finds that 70 % of bored students, coerced into filling out stupid questionnaire forms by their lame teachers have been providing increasingly decietful answers to the scientists who expect teenagers to take them seriously enough to answer very personal questions asked of them by clueless scientists.
    By 2020 we expect every last teenager to lie like crazy in any such study, thereby making the extrapolation of results, by inferring the exact opposite of every answer provided to be a certainty.

  • justagirl

    this study was done on students that attend a highly competitive (and very expensive) university in a relatively snobbish town. the results of the experiment are obvious, not “startling”. konrath should resign and allow someone else to conduct a proper study.

    • Jordan

      You’re apparently the type of person this study is referring to… One that looks down on others, as you point the finger, accusing them of the same thing. What a rough generalization: “People that have money care less.” That’s unfortunate. I’m sure the study may have been more thorough, however, this article didn’t cover a lot. We have been desensitized as a society in numerous ways, as some have mentioned. Also, another thing that wasn’t mentioned, but was implied, was that this is exclusive to Western culture (or lack of). I do think a good example of what this article is talking about is Facebook-ers: how some believe their own denial of “I just want to stay in touch with friends & family” all the while, using the social network to keep tabs on certain people (i.e. stalking) and selectively posting status updates and pictures that one WANTS other people to see. As someone else mentioned about reality TV… human drama has become all too familiar for us as a society; a lot of people feed off this sort of thing and need it in their daily lives. This, all the while, boosts the false ego and separates us further from our fellows.

      • Liam_McGonagle

        Some of your comments had insight, there.

        But frankly, your starting point kind of threw me for a minute. I think Girl was making some interesting and probably valid points about methodology.

        Not sure how any of your otherwise interesting and probably valid points addressed Girl’s point.

      • justagirl

        that might be the most shallow reply i’ve ever gotten from this website. i don’t even feel inclined to retort…

      • Belcat

        Funny, I now know a lot more about my cousins/uncles/aunts in Winnipeg due to Facebook, than I ever did in the 12 years I lived there. Facebook might allow you to talk about yourself a lot, but it also makes it very easy to ignore – I don’t have to pretend to be interested about the time so-and-so got an A+ again. In order to have any empathy for someone, you have to care about them, or even more basic, know they are in trouble of some sort. Facebook allows you to do both. I suppose it can be misused to do what you say, but that is a factor with all means of communication.
        I do agree that looking down on someone is one of the ways one loses empathy, which is what the article is talking about. Social castes have always been one way to say “It’s not my problem”, and justagirl’s comment sounds like such a caste-like comment. Just because they are rich does not mean they have no empathy…

        • Belcat

          LOL, I will admit that lack of general population sampling would skew the results unless they were compared to the same “snobbish town” …

  • justagirl

    this study was done on students that attend a highly competitive (and very expensive) university in a relatively snobbish town. the results of the experiment are obvious, not “startling”. konrath should resign and allow someone else to conduct a proper study.

  • http://twitter.com/smendler Skip Mendler

    One of the first things the fascism virus tries to do is destroy exactly those facilities of conscience that Gandhian nonviolence aims to leverage. If the oppressor agent (soldier, policeman, etc) considers the oppressed “inhuman” or “subhuman” to a sufficient extent, empathy becomes impossible, and Gandhian nonviolence doesn’t work. So anything that helps to *develop* empathy can be seen as part of the counter-fascist prophylaxis.

    • Liberal Atheist Combat Veteran

      Might explain why I found Army service so intolerable, aside from the obvious. Searching someones home for no reason other than “security” was always embaressing for me.

      It was dowright humiliating when one Iraqi man, when asked if he felt safe, said “No, there are men in my home wearing armor and carrying maching guns.” and then gestured to us.

  • http://twitter.com/smendler Skip Mendler

    One of the first things the fascism virus tries to do is destroy exactly those facilities of conscience that Gandhian nonviolence aims to leverage. If the oppressor agent (soldier, policeman, etc) considers the oppressed “inhuman” or “subhuman” to a sufficient extent, empathy becomes impossible, and Gandhian nonviolence doesn’t work. So anything that helps to *develop* empathy can be seen as part of the counter-fascist prophylaxis.

  • Joseph Crook

    If there is any truth in this, Do any of you think it is possible that our ever advancing technology might have something to do with it? People talk to each other more often on the internet and on their cell phones these days than in person it would seem. It is probably hard to completely empathize with people you have never met in person. Perhaps it is a general disconnect we are experiencing as a species nowadays (at least partially due to modern technological convenience) and not just the diminishing empathy of our youth?

    • Hadrian999

      It may also come from the fact that we don’t need to have a strong social network to survive, in the past if you didn’t have lots of friends you were in a very bad position, no barn raisings, no thrashing parties, nobody to help you out if your farm had a bad year without the need to have strong connections to other people it may be atrophying

    • Russell Coonrod

      I feel that people are (talking) to more people via technological means. However the spoken word is only a small portion of (communication)..we tend to forget the the way in which something is said, the speed, the emphasis, the complex facial expressions, hell the way a fellow human smells…..all of these things are left out of the cellphone conversation or the FB likes/comments.. Am I like you? am i dressed the same way, or did it take me an hour to type this little paragraph? reduced human connectivity = reduced empathy ……..you want to see some really high empathy scores…chech combat army units, they spend long hours under stress, relying one on another in a way that no contemporary “civilized” human has to….better bandwith…smell you frineds!

  • Joseph Crook

    If there is any truth in this, Do any of you think it is possible that our ever advancing technology might have something to do with it? People talk to each other more often on the internet and on their cell phones these days than in person it would seem. It is probably hard to completely empathize with people you have never met in person. Perhaps it is a general disconnect we are experiencing as a species nowadays (at least partially due to modern technological convenience) and not just the diminishing empathy of our youth?

  • old gregg

    Exactly, not to mention the soap operas & ‘reality’ shows. You do just stop caring after a while.

  • DMD

    Yeah, you stop caring about TV. What does that have to do with real life?

  • Jordan

    You’re apparently the type of person this study is referring to… One that looks down on others, as you point the finger, accusing them of the same thing. What a rough generalization: “People that have money care less.” That’s unfortunate. I’m sure the study may have been more thorough, however, this article didn’t cover a lot. We have been desensitized as a society in numerous ways, as some have mentioned. Also, another thing that wasn’t mentioned, but was implied, was that this is exclusive to Western culture (or lack of). I do think a good example of what this article is talking about is Facebook-ers: how some believe their own denial of “I just want to stay in touch with friends & family” all the while, using the social network to keep tabs on certain people (i.e. stalking) and selectively posting status updates and pictures that one WANTS other people to see. As someone else mentioned about reality TV… human drama has become all too familiar for us as a society; a lot of people feed off this sort of thing and need it in their daily lives. This, all the while, boosts the false ego and separates us further from our fellows.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Some of your comments had insight, there.

    But frankly, your starting point kind of threw me for a minute. I think Girl was making some interesting and probably valid points about methodology.

    Not sure how any of your otherwise interesting and probably valid points addressed Girl’s point.

  • Marc

    how sad; empathy is what makes us HUMAN

    • Ben45

      I agree with your comment, however, it is all done on purpose to desensitize us and turn us into uncaring “robots” by the music the youth are exposed to, the media, the violence and selfishness we are all seeing in movies etc etc… I wonder how many have even noticed how, in music on the radio etc., that there is hardly any longer even any sentimental music, caring lyrics, religion being banned, morals in schools being ignored? It’s all being done on purpose to turn our younger generations into uncaring, unfaithful, selfish, and egotistical individuals. Notice I use the word “individuals” because that is exactly what it is: me, myself, and I.

      • Hadrian999

        show me a place where religion is being banned, where I live there is a church on almost every block and you have to be a very public christian to run for office, even our godless lefties have to pay lipservice to religion to run. we have to find a middle road between being total psychopaths and hive minded suckers

      • quartz99

        I think we agree in principle, but religions and someone else’s morals being forced on children in schools is part of the problem, not the solution. Religion and “morals” tend to come to children as “you don’t do this because I said so/Big Daddy in the Sky is going to punish you forEVER if you’re disobedient”, rather than what they should be taught: “You don’t do this because it hurts the other person/you should respect other people/How would you feel if Johny hit you?” These things are increasingly dictated to children as an appeal to authority. What they need is to be taught that there’s some reason beyond “I’m throwing my weight around and bossing you around because I can and you’re powerless to stop it.” Is it any wonder that as they get older and feel the need for more self-determination that they don’t understand the real reasons for empathy or how to be empathetic?

    • WhiteRose

      What’s a human… DROID (que sound effects:)

  • Marc

    how sad; empathy is what makes us HUMAN

  • Liberal Atheist Combat Veteran

    Might explain why I found Army service so intolerable, aside from the obvious. Searching someones home for no reason other than “security” was always embaressing for me.

    It was dowright humiliating when one Iraqi man, when asked if he felt safe, said “No, there are men in my home wearing armor and carrying maching guns.” and then gestured to us.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I just lawled :-)

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I wouldn’t slander youth alone with that charge. I’d hazard a guess that Americans across the board are suffering from a loss of empathy. Perhaps its a chemically induced loss…damage from residual toxins, hormones, heavy metals and more…but more likely its a lifestyle induced loss. Never have so many had the capacity to shut out all others and get by comfortably with minimal interaction or involvement. We’re a giant sprawling suburb…with patches of densely packed urban hellholes that deter wanting to know anyone…and vast rural tracts that offer space…but pretty much inspire the same distaste for other humans. Everything in between is suburban wasteland, minimall and convenience shopping mile after mile. Old social bonds that forced interaction on people are eroded…and now just ignored. What’s left to inspire empathy? We suffer together…but each uniquely alone. Ugh…now I feel like writing emo poetry and cutting myself for awhile.

    • WhiteRose

      Oh no we are going to have to ship you off to disemo.com now ha ha the fact is parents are fat and lazy and so are their kids they expect to find the answer to life in a video game…. they don’t care about people, religion, politics… seems to me the only thing they do care about is their profile pic on FB and their status update telling the world how cool they are….

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I wouldn’t slander youth alone with that charge. I’d hazard a guess that Americans across the board are suffering from a loss of empathy. Perhaps its a chemically induced loss…damage from residual toxins, hormones, heavy metals and more…but more likely its a lifestyle induced loss. Never have so many had the capacity to shut out all others and get by comfortably with minimal interaction or involvement. We’re a giant sprawling suburb…with patches of densely packed urban hellholes that deter wanting to know anyone…and vast rural tracts that offer space…but pretty much inspire the same distaste for other humans. Everything in between is suburban wasteland, minimall and convenience shopping mile after mile. Old social bonds that forced interaction on people are eroded…and now just ignored. What’s left to inspire empathy? We suffer together…but each uniquely alone. Ugh…now I feel like writing emo poetry and cutting myself for awhile.

  • Ben45

    So what you’re saying is tune out from our lives the poor, the needy, the sick, the elderly, the dying? This is the exact point the article goes on to talk about. How we are becoming less and less caring of others and basically only thinking of ourselves. As goes the expression: “It’s all about ME.” Right?

  • WhiteRose

    Reality shows aren’t even real anymore… back when MTV first started with the Real World now that was reality TV!

  • Ben45

    I agree with your comment, however, it is all done on purpose to desensitize us and turn us into uncaring “robots” by the music the youth are exposed to, the media, the violence and selfishness we are all seeing in movies etc etc… I wonder how many have even noticed how, in music on the radio etc., that there is hardly any longer even any sentimental music, caring lyrics, religion being banned, morals in schools being ignored? It’s all being done on purpose to turn our younger generations into uncaring, unfaithful, selfish, and egotistical individuals. Notice I use the word “individuals” because that is exactly what it is: me, myself, and I.

  • WhiteRose

    Oh no we are going to have to ship you off to disemo.com now ha ha the fact is parents are fat and lazy and so are their kids they expect to find the answer to life in a video game…. they don’t care about people, religion, politics… seems to me the only thing they do care about is their profile pic on FB and their status update telling the world how cool they are….

  • WhiteRose

    What’s a human… DROID (que sound effects:)

  • justagirl

    that might be the most shallow reply i’ve ever gotten from this website. i don’t even feel inclined to retort…

  • Ben45

    It is *NOT* just in young adults.

  • Andrew

    I don’t care.

  • EdwinRutsch

    My I suggest a further resources to learn more about empathy and compassion­.
    The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy
    The Culture of Empathy website is the largest internet portal for resources and informatio­n about the values of empathy and compassion­. It contains articles, conference­s, definition­s, experts, history, interviews­, videos, science and much more about empathy and compassion­.
    http://Cul­tureOfEmpa­thy.com

    Let’s Find 1 Million People Who Want to Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion
    http://Cau­ses.com/Em­pathy”

  • EdwinRutsch

    My I suggest a further resources to learn more about empathy and compassion­.
    The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy
    The Culture of Empathy website is the largest internet portal for resources and informatio­n about the values of empathy and compassion­. It contains articles, conference­s, definition­s, experts, history, interviews­, videos, science and much more about empathy and compassion­.
    http://Cul­tureOfEmpa­thy.com

    Let’s Find 1 Million People Who Want to Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion
    http://Cau­ses.com/Em­pathy”

  • Belcat

    Funny, I now know a lot more about my cousins/uncles/aunts in Winnipeg due to Facebook, than I ever did in the 12 years I lived there. Facebook might allow you to talk about yourself a lot, but it also makes it very easy to ignore – I don’t have to pretend to be interested about the time so-and-so got an A+ again. In order to have any empathy for someone, you have to care about them, or even more basic, know they are in trouble of some sort. Facebook allows you to do both. I suppose it can be misused to do what you say, but that is a factor with all means of communication.
    I do agree that looking down on someone is one of the ways one loses empathy, which is what the article is talking about. Social castes have always been one way to say “It’s not my problem”, and justagirl’s comment sounds like such a caste-like comment. Just because they are rich does not mean they have no empathy…

  • Belcat

    LOL, I will admit that lack of general population sampling would skew the results unless they were compared to the same “snobbish town” …

  • Hadrian999

    show me a place where religion is being banned, where I live there is a church on almost every block and you have to be a very public christian to run for office, even our godless lefties have to pay lipservice to religion to run. we have to find a middle road between being total psychopaths and hive minded suckers

  • Anonymous

    The Internet has done more to harm empathy and compassion than anything else in history.

  • http://drwho.virtadpt.net/ The Doctor

    The Internet has done more to harm empathy and compassion than anything else in history.

    • Hadrian999

      yeah, hard to give people the benefit of the doubt when they provide so much proof they are stupid jackasses

  • Anonymous

    How many people can still tell the difference?

  • Anonymous

    um, not sure what this has to do with the story since study participants in these sorts of programs are volunteers, not to mention they’re college students, not high school which seems to be what you’re implying… Students in the psychology and sociology programs conduct or help conduct experiments as part of their course of study and this researcher pulled from decades of results from previous studies at the same college… this isn’t some questionnaire administered to “bored teenagers” like some kind of unavoidable exam…

  • Anonymous

    I think we agree in principle, but religions and someone else’s morals being forced on children in schools is part of the problem, not the solution. Religion and “morals” tend to come to children as “you don’t do this because I said so/Big Daddy in the Sky is going to punish you forEVER if you’re disobedient”, rather than what they should be taught: “You don’t do this because it hurts the other person/you should respect other people/How would you feel if Johny hit you?” These things are increasingly dictated to children as an appeal to authority. What they need is to be taught that there’s some reason beyond “I’m throwing my weight around and bossing you around because I can and you’re powerless to stop it.” Is it any wonder that as they get older and feel the need for more self-determination that they don’t understand the real reasons for empathy or how to be empathetic?

  • Colt

    This to me is simple. With the standard of living these days and the way people care so much about one person ” them selves ” it makes it much harder for people especially youth to have empathy toward others. Before we became technologically dependent and time was much slower people could take the time to care about ones feelings or something as simple as lending a hand. Now everyone especially our youth strive so hard and put so much time into their personal lives they seem to forget the little things that show our character the most and a lot of times all that takes is a little bit of empathy. This coming from a 19 year old Southern male.

  • Colt

    This to me is simple. With the standard of living these days and the way people care so much about one person ” them selves ” it makes it much harder for people especially youth to have empathy toward others. Before we became technologically dependent and time was much slower people could take the time to care about ones feelings or something as simple as lending a hand. Now everyone especially our youth strive so hard and put so much time into their personal lives they seem to forget the little things that show our character the most and a lot of times all that takes is a little bit of empathy. This coming from a 19 year old Southern male.

  • Hadrian999

    It may also come from the fact that we don’t need to have a strong social network to survive, in the past if you didn’t have lots of friends you were in a very bad position, no barn raisings, no thrashing parties, nobody to help you out if your farm had a bad year without the need to have strong connections to other people it may be atrophying

  • Hadrian999

    yeah, hard to give people the benefit of the doubt when they provide so much proof they are stupid jackasses

  • Effortlessmentality

    I’m not so sure if it’s really a lack of empathy as much as an increase of apathy. That, I could see to be true. Empathy refers to a specific type of understanding, whereas apathy is not only a lack of understanding, but a lack of the desire to understand.

    Agreeably, this is difficult to believe as a legitimate study since it’s hard to scientifically define what “empathy” is. On top of the fact that human studies are always atypical and hard to nail down a particular constant (which is essential to any study, and hard to attain in a human study).

    On a personal level, I believe that it’s apathy caused by the simple fact that, comparatively, kids here have it easy. You have every essential resource available to you no farther than arm’s reach, thus we have a lot of things that aren’t essential (and make up a majority of our economy). Kids here don’t care because they don’t have to. And I think that anyone, young and not-as-young, could attest that it’s hard to make oneself care about something you don’t have to care about. This starts a vicious habit of then not caring about things you should. For example: education, exercise, diet, feelings of others, health, among other things.

    All kids, and even most adults, care about anymore is what they have. Their facebooks, their golf clubs, their Starbucks, their Call of Duty, their relationships, iPhone apps, music, sleeping, TV shows, and other shit in life that neither requires effort nor promotes any sort of productiveness or education. No one cares for anything like being good at one’s job, reading, writing, art: the things that have made, and continue to make, human civilization what it is. How many people have you met that have bothered to read any sort of classical literature outside of a school assignment? On their own time, when they could’ve been doing something else? And even further than that, actually got something out of it? How many people would rather sit around the house and do nothing than be at work?

    Truth be told, these questions really aren’t more true today than they were in earlier days. It’s just that people in older days had to work longer and didn’t have time for luxuries. Whereas today, everyone seems to be able to make time for luxuries because they’re available.

    So that’s my rant for the day, I’m sorry for the length of it.

  • Effortlessmentality

    I’m not so sure if it’s really a lack of empathy as much as an increase of apathy. That, I could see to be true. Empathy refers to a specific type of understanding, whereas apathy is not only a lack of understanding, but a lack of the desire to understand.

    Agreeably, this is difficult to believe as a legitimate study since it’s hard to scientifically define what “empathy” is. On top of the fact that human studies are always atypical and hard to nail down a particular constant (which is essential to any study, and hard to attain in a human study).

    On a personal level, I believe that it’s apathy caused by the simple fact that, comparatively, kids here have it easy. You have every essential resource available to you no farther than arm’s reach, thus we have a lot of things that aren’t essential (and make up a majority of our economy). Kids here don’t care because they don’t have to. And I think that anyone, young and not-as-young, could attest that it’s hard to make oneself care about something you don’t have to care about. This starts a vicious habit of then not caring about things you should. For example: education, exercise, diet, feelings of others, health, among other things.

    All kids, and even most adults, care about anymore is what they have. Their facebooks, their golf clubs, their Starbucks, their Call of Duty, their relationships, iPhone apps, music, sleeping, TV shows, and other shit in life that neither requires effort nor promotes any sort of productiveness or education. No one cares for anything like being good at one’s job, reading, writing, art: the things that have made, and continue to make, human civilization what it is. How many people have you met that have bothered to read any sort of classical literature outside of a school assignment? On their own time, when they could’ve been doing something else? And even further than that, actually got something out of it? How many people would rather sit around the house and do nothing than be at work?

    Truth be told, these questions really aren’t more true today than they were in earlier days. It’s just that people in older days had to work longer and didn’t have time for luxuries. Whereas today, everyone seems to be able to make time for luxuries because they’re available.

    So that’s my rant for the day, I’m sorry for the length of it.

  • http://twitter.com/EZGrowMushrooms Gnome Gnews

    We can attribute at least some of the decline in empathy on violent video games, wouldn’t you say?

  • http://twitter.com/EZGrowMushrooms Gnome Gnews

    We can attribute at least some of the decline in empathy on violent video games, wouldn’t you say?

  • Tuna Ghost

    *trombone sound* wah wah wah waaaaaaaahh

  • Katesisco

    I found a particularly telling book: My freshman year by a college professor who mingled among the incoming freshmen to assess just this facet of sociability. And in the book, River Town, two years on the Yangtze, is an incident much the same. I believe this aspect of our crowed, over ruled nation is increasing due to exactly those conditions.

  • Katesisco

    I found a particularly telling book: My freshman year by a college professor who mingled among the incoming freshmen to assess just this facet of sociability. And in the book, River Town, two years on the Yangtze, is an incident much the same. I believe this aspect of our crowed, over ruled nation is increasing due to exactly those conditions.

  • Russell Coonrod

    I feel that people are (talking) to more people via technological means. However the spoken word is only a small portion of (communication)..we tend to forget the the way in which something is said, the speed, the emphasis, the complex facial expressions, hell the way a fellow human smells…..all of these things are left out of the cellphone conversation or the FB likes/comments.. Am I like you? am i dressed the same way, or did it take me an hour to type this little paragraph? reduced human connectivity = reduced empathy ……..you want to see some really high empathy scores…chech combat army units, they spend long hours under stress, relying one on another in a way that no contemporary “civilized” human has to….better bandwith…smell you frineds!

  • allikas

    Maybe most people have empathic feelings towards others who are somehow similar to them but unable and unwilling to understand those who are completely different. In the past there were lots of similarities between people: both the rich and poor believed in the same god, there were stricter manners, schools treated everybody the same and so on. Nowadays people are much more different from each other, they don’t act according to their gender, cultural heritage, age, country or schooling. So maybe it is more about that very few people have unconditional empathy that comes from themselves, not from the society and education that forces them to accept others because of politics, race, religion, culture or invasive humanism (humans vs animals). Personally, I haven’t seen almost anybody who is compassionate towards everybody without labelling and boxing others as worthy or not worthy enough to care about. But if this is not a skill that people are born with we shouldn’t be shy to talk about learning it.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe most people have empathic feelings towards others who are somehow similar to them but unable and unwilling to understand those who are completely different. In the past there were lots of similarities between people: both the rich and poor believed in the same god, there were stricter manners, schools treated everybody the same and so on. Nowadays people are much more different from each other, they don’t act according to their gender, cultural heritage, age, country or schooling. So maybe it is more about that very few people have unconditional empathy that comes from themselves, not from the society and education that forces them to accept others because of politics, race, religion, culture or invasive humanism (humans vs animals). Personally, I haven’t seen almost anybody who is compassionate towards everybody without labelling and boxing others as worthy or not worthy enough to care about. But if this is not a skill that people are born with we shouldn’t be shy to talk about learning it.

  • Notdeathly

    i as a youth of our society have to say that this article is in fact true. I personally am an extremely empathetic person but i have had to hide away a lot of that empathy for other people because of the  amount of bullying that goes on every day to me and others. I think that if kids are getting diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder from the amount of bullying that they are subjected to then empathy must have gone down by a lot for people to let this happen.

  • Notdeathly

    i as a youth of our society have to say that this article is in fact true. I personally am an extremely empathetic person but i have had to hide away a lot of that empathy for other people because of the  amount of bullying that goes on every day to me and others. I think that if kids are getting diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder from the amount of bullying that they are subjected to then empathy must have gone down by a lot for people to let this happen.

  • Notdeathly

    sorry that random picture for some strange reason got uploaded with my comment… i don’t  know why it did that..

  • Notdeathly

    sorry that random picture for some strange reason got uploaded with my comment… i don’t  know why it did that..