Bullying and the ’empathy gap’

Why isn’t “bullying” being taken more seriously? There’s an “empathy gap,” according to a study out from Northwestern University today.

“The research suggests that people have difficulty appreciating the full severity of social suffering unless they themselves experience it,” the study says. “The findings show that an understanding of this empathy gap, especially in the case of bullying, is crucial because it has implications for how outsiders react to socially distressing events and the degree of punitive measures that are taken in support of victims.”

In his study (documented on LiveScience.com), professor Loran Nordgren had students play a ball-tossing game with scenarios in which some of the students were included and some who weren’t. In assessing other scenarios, those who were “excluded” were more able to understand the pain of bullying than those who were “included.”

He did it again with teachers, and found the same result.

It may be a scientific example of the bottom line of a study being: “some people just don’t get it.”

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