US ranks behind Saudi Arabia in empathy, says a global survey

empathy friendship

In a study conducted by University of Chicago, Michigan State University and Indiana University, researchers show that the US ranks No.7 in empathy in the world.

The ranking involves 104,365 adults across 63 countries. Researchers found that higher empathy countries also have higher levels of collectivism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, self-esteem, emotionality, subjective well-being, and prosocial behavior.

The finding is published in Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.

Researchers suggest that the ranking reflects that the psychological states of US people have been changing in the past 20 years. Generally, people focus on themselves more and others less.

The large online study measured people’s compassion for others and their tendency to imagine others’ point of view. Both developing and developed countries were included.

On the list, the most empathetic country is Ecuador, followed by other countries like Saudi Arabia, Peru, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Korea, and Costa Rica.

The result also showed that 7 of the 10 least empathetic countries were in Eastern Europe.

Researchers suggest that this is the first study examining empathy on a country-by-country level.

Interestingly, people’s empathy seems not to be related to the war or aggression with other countries. This may be because the study did not distinguish the empathy to other countries and empathy to other people.

The current finding expands people understanding about how psychological characteristics vary across cultures and how these characteristics can manifest in broader national indicators of prosocial behavior.

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Citation: Chopik WJ, et al. (2016). Differences in Empathic Concern and Perspective Taking Across 63 Countries. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, published online. DOI: 10.1177/0022022116673910.
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