College students are not as nice now as they used to be three-four decades ago, a new study by the University of Michigan has found.
Partly blaming modern technology for the change, the study found that college students have become less empathetic post-2000. The analysis shows that today’s college-goers, when compared to those of the late
1970s, are less likely to agree with statements like "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".
Led by Sara Konrath, a researcher at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, the study was made public during the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in Boston.
Affiliated with the University of Rochester's Department of Psychiatry, Konrath, who analysed data on empathy among almost 14,000 college students over the past three decades, said: "We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000”.
In addition, college kids today are about 40% lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago, as measured by standard tests of this personality trait, the analysis found.
The increase in exposure to media during this time period could be one factor responsible for the decline in empathy, Konrath asserted.