Coming to a workplace near you?

Jeanna Bryner, writing for, reports on a study indicating that the college students today are considerably less empathetic than those of generations past:

College students today are less likely to “get” the emotions of others than their counterparts 20 and 30 years ago, a new review study suggests.

Specifically, today’s students scored 40 percent lower on a measure of empathy than their elders did.

The findings are based on a review of 72 studies of 14,000 American college students overall conducted between 1979 and 2009.

“We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000,” said Sara Konrath, a researcher at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

Uh oh…

Whether we’re talking about workplace bullying, business ethics, or just the everyday ways in which people are treated at work, this is not good news for anyone who values psychologically healthy workplaces.  There are plenty of implications for educators and organizations, not the least of which is how to nurture and identify qualities of empathy, social intelligence, and inclusive leadership in those who will be taking their places in our offices and plants during the years to come.

One response

  1. The lack of empathy may be one of the significant factors underlying the coarsening of our American culture (if we were ever as compassionate as we like to believe we were). No empathy, no connectedness with others, no concern for others’ pain, no reciprocity of emotions. It is NOT amusing that Glenn Beck claims empathy is behind the decline of American exceptionalism. Whoops. Seems he got that (and everything else) backwards. Empathy is a noble quality of the human experience.

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