The model

“Get rich, hustle hard”, “Become successful”, “Get to the top”, “Get famous”. How often do you hear this today?

In Why Is This Happening, we talked about how many societies promote competition and self-advancement. I even teach this in my life coaching programs. Does that  relate to our growing decrease in empathy and sympathy for one another because we become so self-absorbed in our own progress?

Some facts

Dr. Konrath, who is affiliated with the University of Rochester Department of Psychiatry said, “Many people see the current group of college students — sometimes called ‘Generation Me’ — as one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history,” One of the graduate students who conducted the Michigan Study, (talked about in the previous post), Edward O’Brien, said, “It’s not surprising that this growing emphasis on the self, is accompanied by a corresponding devaluation of others.”

Good news

There have been studies that showed that this self-centeredness has always been common among college students and as they get older it goes away. The reason to that, is because young adults are generally more ambitious about achievement. They are in the very initial stages of  building their careers. Therefore to them, reaching their goals may seem more important than most other things. Yes, as they get older, they learn other values, so with time they may become less egocentric for that reason.

What role does social media play in this?

The culture of self-advancement is more widely measured right now due to one thing, social media. It’s measured in the amount of followers, subscribers, views, shares, etc. Also we are more exposed to other people’s success (even if it completely fabricated) through social media and television and that makes us more competitive.

O’Brien’s observation is extremely true. “The more time we spend focused on ourselves, the less time we have to care about others.” Oftentimes we are too focused on our self-advancemtn to recognize the problems of the people who need us the most. Feeling empathy and being sympathetic makes us want to help and that takes time, time away from ourselves.

However those people forget one thing, it is relationships that are our biggest asset.

Having close relationships, a strong network and a vast social capital will all help you become successful! Having good friends and good connections is key. But for that, you have to care about others on a personal level.

Quiz your empathy

To test your level of empathy and compare how you scored to the average empathy level of college students, visit


Empathy: College students don’t have as much as they used to, study finds. University of Michigan, May 29, 2010


Dr. Konrath