Declining Empathy

According to a New York Times article From Students, Less Kindness for Strangers?, “college students today are 40 percent less empathetic than those of 30 years ago, with the numbers plunging primarily after 2000.”  While the notion like “empathy” cannot really be measured, this does not seem to be a good sign, along with the Creativity Crisis (as discussed earlier).  The author of the article speculate that the trend is caused by the mixture of hyper-competition/individualism in the evolving virtual social context.

Empathy is, naturally, about considering others.  However, it is also possible to make a connection betwen the ability to consider others and the ability to consider ourselves.  For example, it has been pointed out that the ability to emotionally attune with others is tightly linked with the ability to attune with ourselves (see, e.g., Daniel Siegel’s The Mindful Brain).  In this regard, we may actually need more of self-compassion to begin with (Christopher Germer’s The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion).


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