Expanding Empathy Talk Series

posted April 6, 2019 in CommRadio, News by Maria Coyne

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Assistant professor of philanthropic studies at Indiana University, Sara Konrath, was the fourth and final speaker of the sponsored series by the Moral Agency and Moral Development Initiative in the Rock Ethics Institute.

Konrath spoke on the topic of expanding empathy in the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on Thursday. The series previously featured Mina Cikara, Michael Poulin and Kurt Gray.

Konrath gave an interactive presentation titled “Spread Thin: Changes Over Time in Empathy and American Health in Young People.” Konrath showed various tables and charts of her research findings on the incline and decline of certain behaviors among millennials. These topics included empathy, trust in others, life goals, helping others and depressive symptoms.

To finish the talk, Konrath said that a decline in empathy, rise in mental health issues, rise in overworking and rise in unrealistic expectations ultimately leads to burnout, but Konrath believes that society can change its path.
“I think this is systemic, I don’t think it’s going to be one individual saying no. It’s going to be enough individuals saying this is not okay, this is not quality of life, and there are things more important in life, like values,” Konrath said.

Assistant Professor in psychology at Penn State and faculty member in the Rock Ethics Institute, Daryl Cameron, said it is important to have these presentations on Penn State’s campus.

“I think as you saw today, a lot of this work has direct relevance for the lives of students so discussions about changes over time in empathy and narcissism and trying to understand what those mean,” Cameron said.

Looking ahead, Cameron encouraged the audience to be on the lookout for similar talks in the coming academic year.



Maria Coyne is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, mvc5940@psu.edu.