Dean Smith, our leader at Urban Connection--Austin, sent me the following article describing how recent research discovered that young people lag behind previous generations in terms of empathy for their fellows who experience difficulty.
In my opinion, the most disturbing finding of the research was the fact that the young generation today is more individualistic than any in the recent past. Not a good sign for the development of meaningful community action among this population.
I'd love your reactions after you've read the report.
Generation me students have less empathy than 20 years ago
The modern-day "Generation me" students are more selfish and less empathetic than two decades ago, claims new research.
By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
Published: 6:00PM BST 28 May 2010
Students used to be about all about holding sit-ins and rallies in order to fight for the rights of others.
But now they are too engrossed in their own lives to care, claims new research.
According to psychologists, undergraduates are fast losing the ability to empathise with other people.
Researchers reviewing surveys of empathy found that they have lost almost 40 per cent of the ability since the 1980s.
The study, presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, analysed a number of surveys involving almost 14,000 college students over the last 30 years.
"We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000," said Sara Konrath, a researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.
"College kids today are about 40 per cent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago, as measured by standard tests of this personality trait."
Ms Konrath analysed the findings of 72 different studies of American college students conducted between 1979 and 2009, with fellow graduate student Edward O'Brien and undergraduate student Courtney Hsing.
Compared to college students of the late 1970s, the study found, college students today are less likely to agree with statements such as "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."
Ms Konrath said that many people refer to the effect as the "Generation Me" which is one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history.
To read the entire report click here.
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