Who Cares? Not College Students: Study Finds Co-ed Empathy Decreasing

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If you’re wondering why you never hear about student protests these days, this might be the answer. New research shows that the empathy levels of college students has dramatically declined over the past 30 years. 

The study, which comes from the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review, indicates that college students have been giving less caring responses to standard questions that determine empathy. Known as the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, the questionnaire asks 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.”

(More on TIME.com: See the early roots of empathy)

Turns out, modern students just don’t seem to care. The research shows that today’s college students are a shocking 75 percent less empathetic than the students of the ’70s.

Why are the students of today less caring? Scientific American offers a few possibilities. One could be an increase in social isolation–compared to the ’70s, Americans today are far more likely to live alone and less likely to join groups.

(More on TIME.com: The top 10 college dropouts)

Another possibility is a decline in reading. Studies have shown that people who read fiction are typically more empathetic, yet the percentage of college students who read for pleasure is less than 50 percent — the lowest it’s been in ten years.

Then again, we should also probably take a look at Jersey Shore as a possible reason for the decline in empathy towards fellow humans. Kidding! (via Scientific American)

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