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has been reported to be on the decline. A number of studies appear tosuggest that the decline is evident among the college students withthe ones who joined campus after 2000 recording the lowest levels. Asscholars keep their eyes to the ground, they have kept hearing thatemotional intelligence is spiraling downward among the kids. Withempathy leading the trend, statistics from various studies appear toagree on this claim. Therefore, this paper will discuss what a numberof research works suggest on the decline of empathy and the reasonsfor the problem. This paper will further discuss how researchers havedetermined that empathy is declining and offer suggestions on how tosolve this issue.


Onestudy published online in the month of August and led by Sara Konrathfrom the University of Michigan reported that the self-reportedempathy of college students had been on the decline since the year1980 with a steep drop occurring in the last 10 years. According tothis study, the same period witnessed the self-reported narcissism ofstudents reach different heights (Zaki). The findings by Konrath havebeen supported by a new study undertaken by researchers from theUniversity of Michigan involving over 14000 students as participants.The new study indicated that the level of empathy of the students whojoined college after the year 2000 had declined by 40% compared tothat of the ones who joined before. While it has been suggested inthe article entitled, “Bornfor Love” that the modern parenting practices are placing empathy at risk,this study offered data that quantified the decline. Research alsosuggests that increase in narcissism has, in turn, replaced the dropin empathy. Research undertaken by Jean Twenge, who is apsychologist, measured the narcissism epidemic of students with themajority of them showing increased selfish qualities with thepotential of leading to narcissistic personality disorder diagnosis(Szalavitz).

Whyempathy is declining

Amajority of studies have outlined several reasons that account forthe decline in empathy. The article by Szalavitz suggests that kidsof the present day play much less outdoors as well as spend far lesstime involved in amorphous activities with their peers as opposed tothe prior generations. Therefore, with less unstructured free timespending with their peers, kids do not get to recognize each otherwell and thus cannot manage to connect as well as care for eachother. The article further suggests that the time that was previouslyspent outdoors is presently used watching screens. It is obvious thatthe television can never teach anyone empathy. The other reason thathas led to the decline in empathy is the self-esteem drive and itsmalevolent belief that one cannot love another person until he loveshimself. The reasons for the decline in empathy are also supported inan article authored by Davis entitled, “TheFlight from Conversation.”In this article, the writer outlines the arguments made bypsychologist Sherry Turkle that substituting the face-to-facecommunication with the smartphones has diminished the capacity forempathy of individuals. A majority of the daily conversations made bydifferent people do not involve eye contact, which is critical tobuilding empathy.

Howto determine the decline

Theempathy of an individual can be assessed in several ways. However,the most popular way that majority of studies employ involves askingpeople what they ponder of themselves. The IRI (InterpersonalReactivity Index), which is a recognized questionnaire, taps empathyby asking one several questions. These include whether he/she agreeswith statements like “I often have tender, apprehensive feelingsfor individuals less privileged than me,” and “I try to examineeverybody’s side of a quarrel prior to making a decision.”Individuals will vary greatly in how empathic they regard themselves.Furthermore, research confirms that individuals who claim that theyare empathic primarily demonstrate it in discernible ways, extendingfrom mimicking the postures of others to assisting those in need(Elmore). From the time of its invention in the year 1979 to thepresent day, numerous students have filled the IRI questionnairewhile taking part in studies that examine a wide range of concernsfrom neutral responses to the pain levels of people. Researchers likeKonrath together with her colleagues exploited this data byorganizing self-reported empathy scores of almost 14000 students(Zaki).


Whenone examines the available studies on the decline of empathy amongindividuals and its causes, it is obvious that something needs to bedone to solve this problem. The suggested solutions range from achange in the way parents raise their kids in the modern culture tochange the time they spend indoors. This paper suggests that thesolutions to the declining empathy problem included designing moreoutdoors games for kids, changing the notion spread by the `loveyourself first` advocates and encouraging more of face-to-facecommunication among peers. These measures will assist people tobecome more empathic.


Inconclusion, this paper discussed what a number of research workssuggested on the decline of empathy, and the reasons for the problem.The paper also suggested solutions to the problem that would ensurethat people become more empathic in their behavior. The discussionconcludes that encouraging more face-to-face communication, increasedoutdoor activities among peers, and a change in the way parents raisetheir kids will help in building empathy in most people.


Davis,Lauren. The Flight From Conversation. TheAtlantic,7 Oct. 2015. Web. 20 November 2016.

Elmore,Tim. Why is Declining Among Students and What We Can Do.Psychology Today, 20 Mar. 2014. Web. 20 November 2016.

Szalavitz,Maia. Shocker: Dropped 40% in College Students Since 2000. PsychologyToday,2010. Web. 20 November 2016.

Zaki,Jamil. What,Me Care? Young Are Less Empathetic. ScientificAmerican Mind,1 January 2011. Web. 20 November 2016.