Empathy levels falling. 

I only heard about the University of Michigan Empathy Study the other day. It was actually completed in 2010.

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Drop of 40% in empathy levels!

US college sophomore’s have been questioned about empathy for over 30 years. The 2010 figures showed there was a drop of 40% in empathy levels over this twenty to thirty year period. I wonder what the figure is now some 7 years later!

2000 saw the biggest drop. This would have been the year that children born in 1982 or onwards started college! Which would probably make them the first generation brought up with 24 hour news, games consoles, mobile phones and the internet. Have all these things combined to disconnect our youth from others?

Daily we see or hear about online bullying. Trolling and memes poking fun at people because of how they look or what they wear. We judge people and are judged instead of offering help and support.

Babies and toddlers have empathy.

I always believed that empathy was something that some people had naturally and others didn’t. I came across this piece by Diana Divecha PHD that shows all babies and toddlers have empathy, with no difference between the sexes.

It is also something that can be nurtured. There is then something wrong with our modern world if children are losing the ability to show empathy to others, by the time they are teenagers! Is it our parenting? Our education systems? The modern digital world? More than likely it is a combination of all three.

In Danish schools they have an hour a week, from their own first year to when they leave school, where the students meet and can discuss anything that is bothering them. They then work together to try and find solutions. At the end of the hour they have a cake or other treats baked by the students.

Year on year Denmark is top of the happiness charts.

I have watched many instances of children showing empathy to their fellow humans. Now that I think about it, it is mainly the smaller children who empathise the most.

How have we let generations of young people grow up without the ability to empathise and want to help their fellow humans? How have we become so consumed with the attainment of wealth and possessions? So wrapped up in digital worlds that we can’t spare the time or energy to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes never mind help them.

I for one will certainly be doing more to try and make sure my children grow up with empathy!

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11 thoughts on “Empathy levels falling. 

  1. I’ve been feeling this for a while now, so it’s interesting to see others feel the same. Our society (I’m in the UK) is definitely lacking compassion and empathy. I started really noticing it a couple of years ago when the refugee crisis in the Med hit it’s peak. The vile comments online from my “friends” were unbelievable and sad. We can learn a lot from countries like Denmark in many ways. Great post 🖒

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree, it seems that nobody gives a stuff these days.I’m really empathetic, too much a lot of the time so I find it difficult to understand how/Why other people aren’t.My younger 2 are but my teen it seems isn’t so much now but was when younger but I’m not sure if that’s because of his peer group or just him?I’ve always brought them up to think about other feelings and I think it’s a real shame that it’s dropping!

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  3. I saw something on the news the other day about the government thinking od bringing in a law similar to what they have in Germany where it is a criminal offence not to attempt to help someone you see who is injured or in danger (by help they mean call the appropriate emergency services). This has come to a head due to the rise in people who will just walk on by or even worse watch/film something they see but not report it (people filming the aftermath of car crashes, suicide attempts and other awful things).
    I sometimes think society is going to hell 😕

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is really interesting, and very sad. I think it’s true that we live in a culture that is focussed on being an individual – it’s about getting what I want and getting it as soon as possible. I think we are losing the community spirit that says “If we all work together, we can accomplish ___” and it’s because we only look to our own needs rather than noticing the pain and struggles of other people too. A sad state of affairs.

    But I also think, as parents, we can change this trend – we’re the ones responsible for bringing up the next generation and instilling values in them. Let’s encourage their empathy skills and demonstrate kindness to each other 🙂 #blogcrush

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  5. Sometimes I wonder about these studies. Is empathy really lessening or are we approaching with the same questions when the world has changed so much. Let’s all hope the second is true because a world without empathy would be very, very dark. #BlogCrush

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a really interesting statistic….one that I sadly agree with. We need to work hard as parents and teachers to ensure that this doesn’t get any worse. As a teacher, I actually find the parents lacking in empathy rather the children…. #blogcrush

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  7. That’s an astonishing statistic, but looking around me I don’t feel particularly surprised. I see so much evidence of self obsession around me every day – from aggressive drivers thinking they own the road, to people who expect the world and offer nothing in return, to promises broken without a moment’s thought about how that will affect others. I’m sure all this happened 20 years ago, but it just seems so expected now. One of the key things I want to teach D is empathy. It’s so important, and so worrying that it is disappearing. #blogcrush

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