Looks like most people deliberately avoid empathy even though it can have positive outcomes for even their own selves. A new research shows that people don’t want to feel empathetic toward others because it requires effort.
What Did The Study Reveal?
This new research reveals that people avoid feelings of empathy for others even if such feelings don’t demand time or money. The reason? They think empathy takes too much mental effort. This new study has been published by the American Psychological Association.
Empathy, which requires one to put himself in the situation of another person to understand him and be of help to him, is a feeling which most people do not want to feel. The researchers found that while it is assumed that most people don’t want to feel empathetic toward others because it can mean they have to donate or feel depressed these are not the causes that deter people from feeling empathy.
The lead researcher of the study, C. Daryl Cameron, PhD. said, “we found that people primarily just don’t want to make the mental effort to feel empathy toward others, even when it involves feeling positive emotions.” This study has been published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General online. For it, 1200 participants were taken in and 11 experiments were done.
Scientists carried out an “Empathy Selection Test” to see what was responsible for stopping people from feeling empathy. In the tests, participants were to freely choose cards from two decks that showed pictures of child refugees. For the first deck, participants were asked to describe the physical features of the people in the images.
For the second, they were told to think what the person in the picture was feeling by feeling empathy for him. In other tests, researchers showed participants happy and sad images of people on the cards. It was observed that participants picked images that didn’t require them to feel empathetic. The empathy deck was chosen by only 35% in comparison to the non-empathy one.
After this experiment, participants filled survey questions in which they reported that they found empathy a mentally draining effort. And those who saw empathy as more distressing or irritating were more likely to select images that didn’t require them to feel empathetic.
In two tests of the 11, participants were told they were doing better than others on the empathy deck which made them pick the empathy deck more and report that empathy didn’t require too much cognitive effort. Does this mean that people can be encouraged to be more empathetic by telling them that they can be so?
A latest research says that people don’t want to feel empathy because of the effort it requires despite the positive emotions that helping others brings. The same study has also found that empathy can be encouraged by telling people that they are good at it. Such motivation may help induce feelings of empathy in people toward victims of natural disasters, immigrants, etc.