Recession May Have Boosted Teens' Social Consciousness07/11/13
THURSDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Concern for other people
and the environment rose among American teens during the recent
recession, a new study indicates.
Researchers analyzed data collected from high school seniors
between 1976 and 2010, and found that concern for others declined
significantly between the mid-1970s and 2004-2006, and then climbed
during the 2008-2010 recession.
Along with greater concern for others, students who graduated
during the recession also had more interest in social issues, in
saving energy and in protecting the environment, the psychologists
at San Diego State University (SDSU) and University of California,
Los Angeles (UCLA) found.
For example, 63 percent of recession-era high school seniors
said they made an effort to turn down the heat at home to save
energy, compared to 55 percent before the recession. Thirty percent
of recession-era 12th graders said they thought often about social
problems, compared to 26 percent before the recession, the
investigators found. During the recession, 36 percent of high
school seniors said they would be willing to use a bicycle or mass
transit to get to work, up from 28 percent before the
"Although young people's concern for others and for the environment is still lower than it was in the 1970s, the recession has apparently led youth to focus more on others compared to the economic boom times of the mid-2000s," Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at SDSU, said in a university news release.
"Amidst all of the suffering caused by the recession, there may be positive benefits to society if more Americans are looking outside themselves," Twenge added.
And according to Patricia Greenfield, a psychology professor at
UCLA, "This is the silver lining of the Great Recession."
Greenfield noted in the news release, "These findings are
consistent with my theory that fewer economic resources lead to
more concern for others and the community. It is a change very much
needed by our society."
The study was published July 11 in the journal
Social Psychological and Personality Science.
The Nemours Foundation offers a family guide to
getting involved in the community.
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