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Do We Become More Empathic As We Get Older?

To explore the relationship between age and empathy, my colleagues and I turned to six longitudinal data sets that involved 740 adults. Because these data were longitudinal — following the respondents over many years — we were able to directly examine how empathy changed from age 13 to age 72 and whether people who were born earlier (as early as the 1920s) showed different patterns of empathy than people who were born later (in the 1960s). Our results showed that empathy increased with age, particularly after age 40. Furthermore, people who were born later tended to be more empathic than those who were born earlier.

 

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