Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Engineers less empathetic than students in caring professions, study suggests

Date:
January 17, 2013
Source:
Expertsvar
Summary:
Are engineering students less empathetic than students in the caring professions? Yes, according to a new study.

Are engineering students less empathetic than students in the caring professions? Yes, the findings from a study performed at Linköping University indicate that this is the case. The study comprises more than 200 students from six different study programs and was carried out by Chato Rasoal, a researcher in psychology, together with two colleagues.

The researchers measured empathy with a well-established questionnaire that shows, for example, the degree of imagination, the ability to assume the perspective of others, and whether the subject cares about others, along with the subject´s own worries and anxiety.

"Empathy can have both a cognitive and an emotional aspect," explains Chato Rasoal. The capacity to see things from the point of view of others is primarily cognitive, while caring about others is a more emotional component.

Earlier research has shown that engineers have a lower degree of empathy than future doctors and nurses. This may seem perfectly natural, after all, you don´t need much empathy to work with machines and calculations, do you? But Chato Rasoal doesn´t agree.

- Advanced engineers often take on leading positions in companies, where they have to be able to lead teams involving many co-workers. This requires both good communication skills and social competence. In today´s global business world you also need intercultural competence, an ability to communicate and collaborate with people from entirely different cultures.

The students responses evinced clear differences between caring-profession students and engineers. The latter had considerably lower scores. However, the differences were mitigated when the data was adjusted for gender. It´s well known that women are more empathetic than men.

Two groups of engineers participated, students of computer engineering and applied physics. For the latter a marked difference compared with caring students remained even after adjusting for gender differences.

For computer engineering students, the differences were largely eliminated. The researchers have a theory about why: the computer engineering students are taught with PBL, problem-based learning, which is not the case for the applied physics students. Chato Rasoal believes this can influence the degree of empathy.

"In problem-based learning you work in groups a lot. You have to be able to listen to others and accept other people´s thoughts and expressions of emotions. Otherwise it won´t work."

In a currently ongoing study they want to see if this theory can be confirmed. For five semesters they have followed students of computer engineering to see whether PBL affects their capacity for empathy. The data are now being processed.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Expertsvar. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chato Rasoal, Henrik Danielsson, Tomas Jungert. Empathy among students in engineering programmes. European Journal of Engineering Education, 2012; 37 (5): 427 DOI: 10.1080/03043797.2012.708720

Cite This Page:

Expertsvar. "Engineers less empathetic than students in caring professions, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130117084854.htm>.
Expertsvar. (2013, January 17). Engineers less empathetic than students in caring professions, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130117084854.htm
Expertsvar. "Engineers less empathetic than students in caring professions, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130117084854.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) — New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) — The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins