(KPIX 5) — Empathy in our culture is quickly receding, especially among college students, the latest findings from Sage Journal show.

The report says that the average American college student in 2009 was less caring than three quarters of students in 1979. Are people giving up on empathy?

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KPIX 5’s Emily Turner talks with Stanford psychology professor Dr. Jamil Zaki, Ph.D. about how academics who study empathy have started to feel like climatologists studying the polar ice:–ach year they discover more about how valuable it is, just as it recedes all around us.

As the head of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory, he saw a hopelessness continuing creep in our culture and decided to do something about it:

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Dr. Zaki developed a class for his students called “Becoming Kinder,” the first ever course of its kind. 16 Stanford freshmen took part in a ten-week long experiment to explore generosity, goodwill and empathy from various scientific angles.

But their goals were not merely academic. They were there to remake themselves into more caring people.

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Through his research, Dr. Zaki has found that when individuals feel empathy in abundance, they are more likely to donate to charity, help strangers, and avoid bias.