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date: 12 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Compassion, or empathic concern, is an emotional response to another’s suffering, coupled with the desire to take action to alleviate that suffering. Throughout history, older generations have been critical of younger generations, often arguing that they are more self-focused than previous generations. However, it is important to examine actual data with respect to changes over time in such variables. Without doing so, we risk spreading potentially harmful and inaccurate stereotypes about young Americans. The goal of this chapter is to review research examining changes over time in compassion-related variables in the United States. Research suggests that compassion-related variables have indeed been declining over time, while self-focused variables have been increasing. However, we will also discuss counter-arguments and counter-evidence, and present possible implications of this research.

Keywords: compassion, empathic concern, temporal changes, social change, other-focus, self-focus

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