We’re Becoming a Nation of Jerks


Lack of empathy and narcissism have long been defining character traits of Americans, but you would have thought they peaked around the time that people, you know, owned slaves. But no! We're actually bigger jerks now than we were then, according to two new studies.

The research, led by Sara H. Konrath of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and published online in August in Personality and Social Psychology Review, found that college students’ self-reported empathy has declined since 1980, with an especially steep drop in the past 10 years. To make matters worse, during this same period students’ self-reported narcissism has reached new heights, according to research by Jean M. Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University.

The work of Konrath and Twenge, Scientific American points out, indicates that "the American personality is shifting in an ominous direction." But, you know, who cares.

What, Me Care? [Scientific American via Choire Sicha/Twitter]