How to cultivate compassion
In a world filled with headlines about mass shootings and terrorist attacks, it’s easy to wonder, “What’s wrong with people these days?”
That’s a fair question. One study that was released by the University of Michigan in 2010 seems to suggest we’re collectively becoming less considerate. After surveying college students, lead researcher Sarah Konrath discovered a 40 per cent decline in empathy-the ability to relate to the feelings and perspectives of others-over the previous 30 years. Konrath and her team attributed this trend to an overall spike in narcissism, individualism and material self-interest and linked it to a waning inclination to show concern for others and adopt their perspectives. While this rate of decline appeared to be relatively stable between 1979 and 1999, it nearly tripled after the year 2000.
That study started a public conversation about whether we’re collectively becoming more heartless in general. But before you bemoan the collapse of civilized society, fear not: experts say we can take steps to reverse this trend.