Engineering Students are Cold-Hearted Automatons

By Gary Cutlack on at

Academic research into the levels of empathy displayed by students found that engineering and science specialists have lower levels of empathy than those studying other subjects. They are meaner and don't care who knows it.

The study, carried out by psychology researchers at Linköping University, used a standard test to check empathy levels in 200 students. Engineers scored lower than doctors and nurses, as you might expect from those pursuing a nerdy profession that involves understanding computers rather than the looks on people's faces.

Which is all fine. We need a varied mix of people to make the world work, and no one wants to do any needless small talk with the IT man while he's removing all the spyware that mysteriously appeared on your PC.

However, the researchers claim issues could arise further down the line, as talented engineers find themselves promoted and their roles change. Instead of spending 14 hours a day examining code, a skilled programmer might eventually find himself leading a team of other workers, where the lack of empathy may turn him into Mr Evil Boss From Hell through no fault of his own.

This data was adjusted for gender, as women are naturally more empathic than men (Deanna Troi). Even with the gender adjustment in place, applied physics students turned out to be the least empathic of the lot. Probably because they know for a fact there's no god. [PR via The Register]

Image credit: Emotionless man from Shutterstock