Compared to college kids of the late 1970s, the study said, today’s are less likely to agree with statements such as "I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective" and "I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me."
The meta-analysis was led by Sara Konrath, a researcher at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and was presented in Boston at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science. She analyzed data on empathy among almost 14,000 college students over the last 30 years.
"We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000," said Konrath, who is also affiliated with the University of Rochester Department of Psychiatry. "College kids today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago, as measured by standard tests of this personality trait."
I don't have a study to prove it, but it certainly feels like this change has deeply affected how school reform plays out in the age of TFA and the Broad Academy. Not to say that the public has historically been sympathetic to poor and minority students in the past and now they're not. But the tenor of the "reformers" has certainly changed. There is a willfully unfeeling hardness now that you wouldn't have seen fifteen or twenty years ago, which may be an extension of the phenomenon described in this study.
Also... in addition to not being a nice person, you can't actually design an effective incentive structure for someone else if you can't empathize with them.