Researchers have found that engineering students are usually less empathetic than students in some caring professions.
This research has been published online in European Journal of Engineering Education.
Empathy refers to the ability of understanding the other person’s feelings or difficulties. According to Chato Rasoal, a researcher in psychology, empathy can have cognitive – ability to see things from others’ viewpoint – as well as emotional aspects – caring for others.
Researchers in this study surveyed nearly 400 students from six different fields including four different health care professional programs and two different engineering programs i.e. computer engineering and applied physics. The survey consisted of a questionnaire with points such as the ability to consider others’ viewpoint, level of imagination, and whether the subject cares about others, along with the participant´s own worries and anxiety.
Researchers found that the students of engineers got less score on empathetic survey than students of care giving profession. On the other hand, the effect lessened, when checked for gender as women show more empathy than men. They found that the students of applied physics showed marked differences than the students of caring-profession as compared to the students of computer engineering. Gender differences didn’t show any large differences in case of applied physics. According to researchers, computer engineering students are taught with PBL, problem-based learning in which students have to study in groups and have to understand other’s thoughts and expressions, that would be responsible for their more empathy.
Rasoal, C., Danielsson, H., & Jungert, T. (2012). Empathy among students in engineering programmes European Journal of Engineering Education, 37 (5), 427-435 DOI: 10.1080/03043797.2012.708720