Sarah Konrath

Middle-aged women bear many of the burdens of caring for others. They look after aging parents, take care of children, and tend to friends in need. So it is not surprising, a Jan. 31 article in the Huffington Post said, that research has shown these women to be more empathetic than similarly aged men, or than younger and older people. The article featured an analysis of data on more than 75,000 adults co-authored by ISR researcher Sarah Konrath that demonstrated the empathetic nature of women in their 50s. According to Konrath, this heightened empathy may in part reflect the era in which the women grew up. “It may be that today’s middle- aged adults report higher empathy than other cohorts because they grew up during periods of important societal changes that emphasized the feelings and perspectives of other groups,” she said. Men of the same age may be less empathetic, Konrath said, because “men and women are socialized differently to be more caring, even from early childhood.”