These Are the World's Most Empathetic Countries

A little understanding goes a long way

Countries in which people prefer tightly knit social groups and interdependence are higher in empathy. (Freedom Studio /

Plenty of studies have been done to find out where in the world people are the happiest. For the first time ever, a new study ranks nations by the empathy of their people and the results may surprise you. Researchers from Michigan State University analyzed the data from an online survey completed by over 104,000 people from around the world. The survey measured people’s compassion for others as well as their tendency to imagine others’ point of view. It also looks at the links between empathetic feelings and a range of personality traits and so-called “prosocial” behaviours, such as volunteering and charitable donations.

Here’s the top 10:
1. Ecuador
2. Saudi Arabia
3. Peru
4. Denmark
5. United Arab Emirates
6. Korea
7. United States
8. Taiwan
9. Costa Rica
10. Kuwait

The countries on the bottom rungs of the Total Empathy scale were Lithuania, Venezuela, Estonia, Poland, and Bulgaria, with seven of the 10 least empathetic countries being in Eastern Europe. Volunteers were asked to rank a series of statements describing their emotions towards other people. They were asked how happy they felt with their lives, and how often they donated money to an organisation, volunteered time to an organisation, or helped a stranger.

The results showed that 'collectivistic' countries, in which people prefer tightly knit social groups and interdependence, were higher in empathy, and empathy across each country’s volunteers was linked with agreeableness, conscientiousness, self-esteem, subjective well-being, and prosocial behaviours. This just goes to prove the long-known fact that us humans are social beings and do better in all of our endeavors when we're both giving and receiving empathy.

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