Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Engineers less empathetic

17.01.2013
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.

The findings from the first study have been presented in an article in European Journal of Engineering Education, link: Empathy among students in engineering programmes.

Contact Chato Rasoal, phone: +46 (0)13-286803, chato.rasoal@liu.se

Anika Agebjörn | idw
Further information:
http://www.vr.se
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03043797.2012.708720?journalCode=ceee20&#preview

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Penn researchers show that mental 'map' and 'compass' are two separate systems
22.05.2015 | University of Pennsylvania

nachricht Real stereotypes continue to exist in virtual worlds
05.05.2015 | Penn State

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Viaducts with wind turbines, the new renewable energy source

Wind turbines could be installed under some of the biggest bridges on the road network to produce electricity. So it is confirmed by calculations carried out by a European researchers team, that have taken a viaduct in the Canary Islands as a reference. This concept could be applied in heavily built-up territories or natural areas with new constructions limitations.

The Juncal Viaduct, in Gran Canaria, has served as a reference for Spanish and British researchers to verify that the wind blowing between the pillars on this...

Im Focus: X-rays and electrons join forces to map catalytic reactions in real-time

New technique combines electron microscopy and synchrotron X-rays to track chemical reactions under real operating conditions

A new technique pioneered at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real...

Im Focus: Iron: A biological element?

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and a half billion years ago.

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and...

Im Focus: Thousands of Droplets for Diagnostics

Researchers develop new method enabling DNA molecules to be counted in just 30 minutes

A team of scientists including PhD student Friedrich Schuler from the Laboratory of MEMS Applications at the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) of...

Im Focus: Bionic eye clinical trial results show long-term safety, efficacy vision-restoring implant

Patients using Argus II experienced significant improvement in visual function and quality of life

The three-year clinical trial results of the retinal implant popularly known as the "bionic eye," have proven the long-term efficacy, safety and reliability of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine in Leipzig: Last chance to submit abstracts until 2 July

25.06.2015 | Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine: Abstract Submission has been extended to 24 June

16.06.2015 | Event News

MUSE hosting Europe’s largest science communication conference

11.06.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

A 'movie' of ultrafast rotating molecules at a hundred billion per second

06.07.2015 | Life Sciences

First Comprehensive Analysis of the Woolly Mammoth Genome Completed

06.07.2015 | Life Sciences

Successful: Cement on Top of Carbon Dioxide

06.07.2015 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>