Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Decline of empathy

SciAm reports:
Because according to an article in Scientific American Mind magazine, analysis of surveys of college kids reveals that self-reported empathy has been dropping for the last 30 years. And empathy really took a nosedive in the last 10 years. [Jamil Zaki, What, Me Care?] ...

The good news is that if empathy can go down, it can also go back up.
This decline was noted before, along with confusion about what the word means. Wikipedia has a long list of definitions for empathy.

Pres. Barack Obama is famous for lacking empathy, but also for wanting to appoint judges with empathy, and for blaming 9/11 on an absence of empathy in the terrorists.

I am wondering why everyone assumes that empathy is a good thing. If psychologists can measure whether it is going up or down, then they ought to be able to measure whether it is making us better or worse off. Where's the evidence? If it is good, then why is it that the upper classes don't want it? I suspect that high empathy measurements are correlated with an assortment of psychological problems.

Update: Some name-calling haters posted some comments on Nov. 30, 2012. Many of them did not notice that I have sources to back up what I say.

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