Changes in empathy in young people

Research conducted by Dr Jolien van der Graaff and her colleagues has demonstrated that our ability to empathise with others is still very much under development during secondary school, with marked differences between boys and girls.

Girls not only show more empathy than boys, but also appear to develop this capacity more quickly. While girls are increasingly able to see things from another person’s point of view from the first year of secondary school, in boys this capacity only starts to grow a few years later.

Furthermore, whereas girls continue to be good at empathising with others throughout the secondary school period, the researchers observed a dip in boys’ ability to do so around the age of 15.