One of the most critically important relationship skills is empathy. It is the willingness and ability to see life through another person’s eyes. To understand their unique perspective and to relate to what they feel.
According to a recent study conducted by the University of Michigan today’s college students do not demonstrate as much empathy as students from the 1980’s and 1990’s.
According to Sara Konrath of U-M Institute for Social Research, “College kids today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago, as measured by standard tests of this personality trait.”
Empathy is an important trait needed to establish and maintain strong interpersonal relationships. One’s ability to demonstrate empathy helps to build relationship connections through the development of understanding, trust and intimacy. Relationships lacking empathy are far less satisfying, potentially abusive and much less likely to last long-term.
Konrath went on to say, “Many people see the current group of college students — sometimes called ‘Generation Me’ — as one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history,”
What’s responsible for this decline in empathy among college students?
According to Konrath and U-M graduate student, Edward O’Brien, there are several possible explanations. “The increase in exposure to media during this time period could be one factor,” Konrath said. “Compared to 30 years ago, the average American now is exposed to three times as much non-work related information. In terms of media content, this generation of college students grew up with video games, and a growing body of research, including work done by my colleagues at Michigan, is establishing that exposure to violent media numbs people to the pain of others.”
O’Brien further speculates that the increase in social media may also be partially responsible for the decline