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May 30, 2012 02:32 PM EDT

Today's College Students Lack Empathy

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Since the dawn of the new millennium, college students are continually showing a lack of empathy compared to their counterparts 20 and 30 years ago, a new review study suggests.

 Specifically, today's students scored 40 percent lower on a measure of empathy than their elders did, according to Live Science.

The findings are based on a review of 72 studies of 14,000 American college students overall, conducted between 1979 and 2009.

"We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000," said Sara Konrath, a researcher at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, in the report.

Compared with college students from the late 1970s, students today are less likely to agree with statements such as "I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective," and "I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me."

This generation, notoriously dubbed "Generation Me," may be the "most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history," Konrath said.

Several reasons for the lower empathy, researchers have found, include the ever-increasing exposure to media in the current generation.

The average American is exposed to three times as much nonwork-related information, researchers said, compared to 30 years ago.

The rise in social media may also play a role.

Users now have the ease of having "friends" online, which in turn prompts them to tune them out when they don't feel like to responding to problems.

This generation's cut-throat competitiveness and fast-paced nature of today, perhaps hinders students from having much slow time to reflect and listen to others, researchers said.

You can find out your empathy score and how it compares with today's college students by taking this empathy exam.  

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