Ecuador is the most empathetic country, followed in order by Saudi Arabia, Peru, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Korea, the United States, Taiwan, Costa Rica and Kuwait.
A first-of-its-kind study that ranks nations by empathy puts the United States at No. 7, behind countries ranging from Peru to Korea to Saudi Arabia.
Michigan State University’s William Chopik is the lead author of the study.
The researchers analyzed the data from an online survey on empathy completed by more than 104,000 people from around the world.
The survey measured people’s compassion for others and their tendency to imagine others’ point of view. Countries with small sample sizes were excluded (including most nations in Africa). All told, 63 countries were ranked in the study.
Three countries from the Middle East — Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait — ranked so highly in empathy considering the long history of aggression and wars with other countries in the region.
The least empathetic country was Lithuania. In fact, seven of the 10 least empathetic countries were in Eastern Europe.
The study, published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, was co-authored by Ed O’Brien of the University of Chicago and Sara Konrath of Indiana University.
Konrath and O’Brien in 2011 published research suggesting that American college students had become less empathetic over a 20-year span.
Potential factors included the explosion of social media; increases in violence and bullying; changing parenting and family practices; and increasing expectations of success.