People have got a less tendency of empathizing with others as they think it requires too much mental effort, a study has found.The study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, included 11 experiments with more than 1,200 participants. Empathy is described as the ability to understand the feelings and emotions of another person, also frequently considered as a virtue that encourages helping behaviours. But people now mostly don’t want to feel empathy.
“There is a common assumption that people stifle feelings of empathy because they could be depressing or costly, such as making donations to charity,” said lead researcher C Daryl Cameron.
“But 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,” Cameron added.
The researchers came up with an “Empathy Selection Task” to examine whether cognitive costs or mental effort, could deprive someone of empathy. Over a series of trials, the researchers used two decks of cards that each featured sad pictures of child refugees.
For the first deck, participants were told just to describe the physical characteristics of the person on the card. While for the other one, they were told to try to feel empathy for the person in the photo and think about what that person was going through. Participants were told to choose freely from either deck in each trial.
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