College Kids Are Jerks: A Study.

Instead of curing cancer or doing whatever it is sciences are supposed to be doing, we get this groundbreaking study result – apparently, sit down now, this will blow your minds, college kids are lacking in empathy and are jerks:

FRIDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) — A three-decade analysis of prior research reveals that American college students are not quite as empathetic as they used to be.

“We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000,” co-author Sara Konrath, a researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, said in a news release. “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.”

Konrath and her colleagues presented their findings this week in Boston at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science.

These efforts to study empathy as though it was a chemical element are quite comical to me. I wonder if someone is working on a precise instrument to measure it – empathometer – and whether this technology could be used to assess, for example, full-of-himself-ness? “The levels of hubris are at their highest this morning, so avoid your colleagues at all cost, unless you want to hear another tirade about how their book or essay are really the best thing that ever happened.” Doesn’t early live record by Tom Waits have something about this “emotional weather forecast”?

3 thoughts on “College Kids Are Jerks: A Study.

  1. So your main objection is that the researchers “study empathy as though it was a chemical element.” I guess I see your point, Mikhail: the researcher makes an unwarranted jump from lower population averages on standardized altruism questionnaires to lower levels of altruism in individual personalities. This extra-empirical leap may well be an artifact of sound-bite journalism; almost surely the scientific pub will be more cautiously worded. I for one feel badly for this poor misunderstood social scientist.

  2. These efforts to study empathy as though it was a chemical element are quite comical to me.

    Yes, but it might be exactly this: a chemical element or a lack thereof. Of course a social scientist shall blame the society [1] for everything that goes wrong and if they need a little help, they demand for a psychoanalyst ( hi Zizek, how is going? ). The neurologist gets angry about this ( we need another of your operas ) but finally we have a happy end and agree on yet another formular: 50% nature / 50% nurture.

    [1] I would blame the media and the internet. That is just too obvious. There are 6.5 billion reasons to be disappointed about mankind. How to not feel a lack of anything? “Lowered expectations” has become an attitude towards life. The younger generation may have realized this just early on and never gone through a personal crisis in the mid twenties, as I did once.

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