Baltics have the least empathetic people in the world

People of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia are among the least empathetic in the world, according to research lead by Michigan State University's William Chopik aiming to measure countries' empathy levels across the globe, reported rus.lsm.lv Sunday.

Perhaps the explanations for the Baltic people's unwillingness or inability to walk in another's shoes are to be found in individualistic tradition and the region's socioeconomic history, according to Chopik. 

The research spans 63 countries and is based on data from an online survey on empathy completed by more than 104,000 people from around the world. According to the authors, the questions were framed in a way that allowed judging the respondents' empathy levels. 

The survey measured people’s compassion for others and their tendency to imagine others’ point of view. The below map illustrates rankings by country, with a darker color meaning a higher empathy rating.

RATINGS

Empathy levels across some countries:

1. Ecuador (3,97)
2. Saudi Arabia (3,89)
3. Peru (3,77)
4. Denmark (3,76)
5. UAE (3,76)
6. South Korea (3,74)
7. USA (3,72)
8. Taiwan (3,71)
9. Costa Rica (3,69)
10. Kuwait (3,68)
...
22. Germany (3,61)
...
38. Ireland (3,52)
 
44. Norway (3,47)
...
47. United Kingdom (3,47)
...
49. Sweden (3,45)
...
53. Russia (3,44)
54. Romania (3,38)
55. Czech Republic (3,37)
56. Latvia (3,37)
57. Slovakia (3,35)
58. Finland (3,33)
59. Bulgaria (3,33)
60. Poland (3,32)
61. Estonia (3,27)
62. Venezuela (3,26)
63. Lithuania (3,15)

The research abstract says that higher empathy countries also have higher levels of collectivism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, self-esteem, emotionality, subjective well-being, and prosocial behavior.

Ecuador was named the most empathetic country with a score of 3.97, while Lithuania ranked last with 3.15. Estonia and Latvia also ranked towards the bottom with 3.27 and 3.37 respectively. Seven of the 10 least empathetic countries were found to be in Eastern Europe.

"I think it's worth noting that every country on the list are pretty close to each other, so really small differences might translate to a different/lower rank, but that the actual differences between countries might not be particularly large," Chopik told rus.lsm.lv.

"Plus, cultures/countries are changing all the time, so this is very much a dynamic process," he said.

Asked why Eastern Europe ranked low in the index, Chopik replied, "We're not entirely sure and the project was very exploratory. However, [..] more collectivistic countries had higher empathy on average, but so too did the more emotionally expressive countries and the happier people.

It also came down to personality--countries who were more agreeable and conscientious were also higher in empathy. It's hard to make really precise predictions based on any individual country, but these variables could be a start, plus the economic and political history might make a difference."

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