Empathy is something that is measurable, and researchers at Michigan State University have done just that, for the first time.
If you had to guess, where do you think the United States ranks in empathy, worldwide?
I’ll give you a minute.
I’ll even give you a visual aide — the darker the red shading, the more empathy a country has:
(Click map for more detail. Countries with small sample sizes were not included — hence the grey for a number of countries.)
Looks pretty high for the Good Ol’ U S of A, eh? Get ready to shout, “We’re number 7! We’re number 7!”
That’s behind Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, and Korea. Rounding out that top-10 list after the United States are Taiwan, Costa Rica, and Kuwait.
And we could lose even more ground, based on a number of factors. Or gain ground, depending on how things go.
The study is based on responses from an online study that reached 104,000 people around the world and measured both compassion for others and the ability to imagine points of view of other people.
One of the interesting things about the study is that it doesn’t separate whether that empathy is for people from other countries or just people in our own. I highly suspect we’d slip even further down the list if that data were to be captured, given some of the extreme xenophobia we’ve seen arise over the last 18 months.