Nonprofit Newswire | Today’s College Students Lack Empathy?

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May 27, 2010; Source: University of Michigan News Service | It would not be good news for the nonprofit sector if we chose to believe what a University of Michigan study claims: namely, that college students today have 40 percent less empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago. Apparently, say these researchers, empathy took its biggest dive after the turn of the century. I’m not even going to pass along the researchers’ speculations about why there is a growing deficit of this valuable human characteristic. The study was based on interviews with 1,400 students, using “standard tests of this personality trait” and the questions included such stuff as “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.”—Hmmm. Anyway, I’d love to hear whether or not you think these findings are on the mark.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Tim Wintermute

    I certainly wouldn’t dismiss the research. It is panel study that has been going on for a number of years by a highly respected academic research institution and is not some fly by night poll or commentator making it up based on their own observations. I asked two college professors and they weren’t surprised based on their experience with students over the years. Whether the reasons for this decline are the ones that the researcher suggests I have no way of knowing but I think this is definitely something that nonprofits and anyone, for that matter, should take seriously.