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Empathy Is Too Much Work for Many of Us

Empathizing with others takes effort, and, generally speaking, we’d rather not expend the energy. “There is a common assumption that people stifle feelings of empathy because they could be depressing or costly,” said lead author C. Daryl Cameron, a psychologist at Penn State University, in announcing the findings. “But we found that people primarily just don’t want to make the mental effort to feel empathy toward others, even when it involves feeling positive emotions.” In the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, the researchers provide evidence of this “robust preference to avoid empathy” in 11 studies featuring a total of 1,204 people.

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