|Study: Today’s college students are lacking empathy|
|Written by Katlyn Rumbold, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Tuesday, 11 October 2011 19:45|
Today’s college students are showing less empathy, according to a study found on msnbc.msn.com.
From 1979 through 2009, 14,000 American college students have been surveyed in 72 studies and all the findings indicate students are less sympathetic towards their peers than in years past, according to the study.
Several key factors come into play when researching as to why this has become a current trend. The highly competitive society, role of the media, the stress of getting through college and finding a job are just a few of the factors associated with this study.
The effects of social media on students are more powerful than people may realize. Megan Hopper, assistant professor in the School of Communication, explained how frequent social media users might be desensitized to negative happenings to others. She thinks their dependence on social media may make them have less empathy for others.
“You can’t say that it affects all students that way, but I do feel that being able to have access to friends online and nothaving to have face-to-face interaction with them makes it very easy to pick and choose what you want to hear about them. You don’t have to express that you don’t care what they’re saying on their status updates, you can just scroll past it.
“Also, if someone posted they’re having a really bad day and have 18 comments, you may not feel the need to say anything or express empathy because they have all these other people commenting. Because it’s not a face-to-face encounter you can’t see the emotion or the weight of what they’re going through that is physically pressing down on them,” Hopper said.
Jeffrey Kahn, professor of psychology, added that emotion is easier to pick up on while face to face.
“Emotions are largely conveyed nonverbally through facial expressions, body language and even vocal tone. Perhaps the increased use of technology-mediated communication, such as Facebook, texting, and so on, diminishes young people’s opportunities to learn how to recognize other’s emotions. Without learning how to recognize what others are feeling, it would be challenging to have empathy for others,” Kahn said.
Also, living in a world where violence seems to be an everyday occurrence on the news, people have become more and more desensitized to violence, Kahn said.
Violent video games also play a role in this as Hopper added that frequent play of these types of games may desensitize individuals to the pain others are experiencing. She also thinks the over abundance of reality television programs play a role in the results of this study.
“As far as not expressing as much empathy, I think it might largely be due to reality TV, especially competitive reality TV shows. You have individuals who are taught to put themselves first and to compete with others to accomplish goals, whether it’s health related goals with ‘The Biggest Loser’, career-related goals with ‘American Idol’ and ‘The Apprentice’, monetary goals with ‘Survivor’, or even romantic relationship goals with ‘The Bachelor’ or ‘The Bachelorette,’” Hopper said.
“Women in particular are given very little room to be more than one-dimensional. If you think of ‘The Bachelor’ or ‘The Apprentice’, there are only a few roles women are allowed to play on these shows. They’re either considered catty towards each other, or largely unintelligent used as comic relief for people to laugh at.
“Most frequently, they’re identities are largely associated with their bodies and how they look. They’re identified by certain aspects of their bodies whether it’s fake or real, small or large, good looking or not good looking.
“As individuals growing up, following reality TV, if you see these women and men more and more too, competing with each other and being isolated to single variables that could make you realize you have to be number one and begin watching out for yourself rather than experience empathy,” she added.