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
About The Author
Ruth is Editor in Chief of the Nonprofit Quarterly. Her background includes forty-five years of experience in nonprofits, primarily in organizations that mix grassroots community work with policy change. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Ruth spent a decade at the Boston Foundation, developing and implementing capacity building programs and advocating for grantmaking attention to constituent involvement.