back to article Engineers are cold and dead inside, research shows

A study carried out by psychology researchers in Sweden has shown that people who go into engineering are less caring and empathetic than those who enter professions such as medicine. Chato Rasoal and his colleagues determined this by surveying 200 students from six different study programs, using a "well-established …

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  1. Silverburn
    Holmes

    Alternatively....Engineers are normal human beings, and those entering the "caring" professions are actually more empathetic that the norm?

    Not that I have any feelings about the whole thing anyway...apparently.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm an engineer, I have sex every day with different people, I date more than three women at a time, I pay child support to my 5 children by 4 mothers.

      How can you say I am less empathetic and caring?

      Wo came up with these stupid statistics?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Joke

        Please leave Wo out of this. I'm sure he had nothing to do with your life choices.

        1. James Micallef Silver badge
          Coat

          Wo is the president of China?

          1. Spoonsinger
            Coat

            Wo is the president of China?

            Hu is!

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. scrubber

            Chinese President?

            No, Wo's on first.

            1. Spoonsinger

              Re: No, Wo's on first.

              I'm asking YOU, Hu's on first.

              1. BillG Silver badge

                Hu's on first.?

                I don't know.

              2. Ploughmans Lunch
                Go

                Re: No, Wo's on first.

                Yu's next

              3. Seanmon
                Boffin

                Re: No, Wo's on first.

                The first woman was created when the first man was bitten by a radioactive Wo. Fact.

      2. gromm

        You're an Engineer and you have *time* to regularly find new bedmates?

        Something doesn't add up there.

      3. csmac3144

        Well you certainly aren't the typical engineer. Your description, however, is of a textbook narcissist and borderline sociopath.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: oversexed engineer

        I think what you described of yourself would certainly qualify you as "less empathetic and caring" that the average human.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: oversexed engineer

          Thank you Ted, that was the joke.

      5. apjanes
        Facepalm

        Hmm... I wonder...

        ... how many of those women who you dated, impregnated and then left to move on and impregnate another woman (not to mention the children who have a dad spread among four other families) would class you as caring and empathetic?

        When engineers produce a rather dubious definition of what caring an empathetic actually are, the study starts to look meritorious! :D

    2. Peter2 Silver badge

      Actually, all normal people have different levels of empathy.

      If you do a fair bit of reading about Neurology then you might be interested to learn that contrary to the prevailing social agenda people are very decidedly not born equal, or anything like it. There are 9 (currently recognised) areas in the brain (namely motor control, object recognition, spacial processing, attention span, language, memory, executive function, emotion, and artistry) that will function at different levels in any person.

      One could postulate that people with better systematising and memory skills are more likely to be drawn to engineering or technical fields as these fields reward people with a better memory and the ability to think logically.

      Meanwhile, people with above average motor control, spacial recognition and spacial recognition and likely to go into which kind of area? Kind of alarming, when you think about the fact that the mental attributes that you are born with are likely to decide the general course of your entire life.

      1. Gartal
        Meh

        Being a prick

        I mean me, not you.

        The current use of the term all people are created equal is incorrect. Firstly it must be taken in the context of its time; there was no IVF.

        Bluntly, it means as my mother so succinctly put it and she was quoting some ancient Roman, " Everyone is born between the piss and the shit." That's it.

      2. boltar Silver badge
        Facepalm

        "kind of alarming, when you think about the fact that the mental attributes that you are born with are likely to decide the general course of your entire life."

        Alarming to whom? Sounds pretty obvious to me. If you're born thick you're going to end up in a lousy job, on welfare or a sportsman. If you're born smart then you'll (probably) end up in some academic or white collar profession.

        1. Cheapster

          If you are born thick and wealthy you should have a good career, lawyer sale exec etc. if you are born clever and poor you stand very little chance.

      3. Nigel 11
        IT Angle

        Why?

        Kind of alarming, when you think about the fact that the mental attributes that you are born with are likely to decide the general course of your entire life.

        Why alarming?

        Most people, I suspect, "go with the flow" and do something that takes advantage of whatever natural abilities they discover they posess. Innate ability AND determination, that's a path to the top.

        A few will choose to do it the hard way and succeed by sheer determination. Fine if that's a free choice. A recipe for terrible unhappiness for all concerned if the path is imposed by others (typically parents).

        It's another facet of the old nature / nurture debate.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Why?

          Why alarming?

          Because I severely limited what I was posting so I didn't bore everybody to death. Suffice to say those are the major areas.

          Minor areas cover things such as sensitivity to particular inputs such as touch, light, smell, sound are also on a sliding scale. (see sensory processing disorder for the extreme) People with a low sensitivity to sound are quite likely to prefer loud heavy rock music, where at the other end of the scale your likely to find people liking the more delicate instrumental music, and that's just the really obvious starting points.

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Social sciences FUD!

        >my warm and empathetic personality.

        It doesn't come out in your posts.

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Social sciences FUD!

        The surveyers obviously never looked at the Slashdot forums! I think they are confusing the techie ability to hide our emotive side behind sarcasm and bad humour with "cold and uncaring", preferring hysterical public displays and outbursts as somehow being "empathic".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Social sciences FUD!

          Actually, I am going off Slashdot because so many cold, vengeful, authoritarian people seem to want to use it to propose their simplistic, mechanistic solutions for human problems. If they are not demanding the right to own automatic rifles because the bad guys have semi-automatics, they are demanding that everybody over the age of about 5 be taken to court for minor offences.

      3. Blitterbug
        Unhappy

        Re: even the Microsoft astroturfers love my warm and empathetic personality

        New kb pls kthxbai

    4. Shagbag

      Who gives a fuck?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Dave Bell

      I do wonder why there was not a control group. There's an implicit one from the design of the test they used, but is that enough.

      (The family statistician tells me that without a control group of some kind, you cannot really distinguish their claim from your hypothesis, but he'd have to read the original paper to decide how stupid they might have been.)

      1. Cpt Blue Bear

        From personal experience of social science practitioners, they have no control group for one of two reasons. Either they don't understand the importance (or possibly the concept, it can be very hard to tell the difference) or because it prevents them getting the result they are after in order to draw their pet conclusion.

    6. Nigel 11
      Linux

      I'll bet engineers are a lot more empathetic than what I'd call the uncaring professions. Lawyers, bankers, politicians ... the usual suspects. You don't have to be a psychopathic narcissist to be in that crowd, but it surely helps.

      Engineers and programmers are far more commonly INT[JP]personality types than mere chance would suggest. Whether or not you feel that classifying personalities into sixteen groups has any more merit than IQ testing, the correlation is quite striking. These are quite rare personality types. (The rarest? I'm not sure).

  2. Joe Pineapples
    Unhappy

    Cold and dead

    I think it's through lack of pay and recognition over many decades. We were once a happy breed :-)

    1. fixit_f
      Flame

      Re: Cold and dead

      I like the sentiment, but not sure it's completely true. We have it pretty easy really with our cushy desk jobs, statutory holiday time, sick days and other such benefits. Go back 2 generations and people did some really awful shit for a living, things like mining and horrid factory work in nasty, polluted conditions. Our grandparents would probably only get a few weekdays off a year, and the general difficulty of life was much higher. So what you said is a nice snappy one liner, sure, and a lot of people upvoted you but I'd imagine your grandparents would find it a bit whingey :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cold and dead

        > Go back 2 generations and people did some really awful shit for a living, things like mining and horrid factory work in nasty, polluted conditions. Our grandparents would probably only get a few weekdays off a year.

        Now people work for nice, enlightened companies like Zynga and EA.

  3. jake Silver badge

    Wow! "200 students from six different study programs"!

    That should cover everybody!

    1. stanimir
      Meh

      Re: Wow! "200 students from six different study programs"!

      Actually the summary says: 365 students from four different health care profession programmes and 115 students from two different engineering programmes

      I was wondering how they compensated for gender difference so I tried to read the paper but paying $45 to find out why exactly medical people dominate the empathy category looks unreasonable.

      Morealso why dollar currency for a site hosted in UK?

      1. jake Silver badge

        "Morealso why dollar currency for a site hosted in UK?"

        Because the bulk of the useful typing seems to being done out of the California office?

        Just ruminating ...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow! "200 students from six different study programs"!

        "but paying $45 to find out why exactly medical people dominate the empathy category looks unreasonable."

        Is the article on JSTOR?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wow! "200 students from six different study programs"!

          > Is the article on JSTOR?

          Hehe, you're killing me!

      3. RonWheeler

        Re: Wow! "200 students from six different study programs"!

        '115 students from two different engineering programmes'.

        So the interview and employment styles/procedures/requirements of two engineering programmes are the elephant in the room they missed, never mind the small sample size.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow! "200 students from six different study programs"!

        > ... 115 students from two different engineering programmes

        >

        > I was wondering how they compensated for gender difference

        Gender difference? I'm sure that out of 115 engineering students there might have been a female one. Granted they would probably have to have examined her very closely to be sure.

  4. Number6

    Obviously

    Machines are much easier to get on with than people.

  5. frank ly Silver badge

    Medical researcher finds that medical people are wonderful!

    What a surprising result.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Medical researcher finds that medical people are wonderful!

      Admission to a medical school pretty much guarantees a huge salary for life irrespective of whether or not you turn out to be good at dealing with people. Most degree courses don't have this guaranteed paycheck for those who don't drop out. Life as a GP is repetitive and if fun for a while, its an unimaginative or greedy kind of person who wants to spend 40 years repeating the same week so its not surprising GPs often move on to other less well paid jobs. I'd be interested to hear what psychologists have to say about the kinds of people attracted to this well paid but repetitive kind of work.

      1. scarshapedstar
        FAIL

        Re: Medical researcher finds that medical people are wonderful!

        This is perhaps the most spectacularly ill-informed comment... ok, never mind, this the internet.

        Nevertheless:

        1) GPs are paid less than specialists.

        2) Specialists do the same thing every week. That's why it's called a specialty.

        3) Psychiatry is actually both well-paid and repetitive...

      2. elderlybloke
        IT Angle

        Re: Medical researcher finds that medical people are wonderful!

        It seems that you are not fond of Doctors, and the best thing for you to do is to avoid all contact with the greedy rotters.

        My Doc. seems to be an exeption, he actually seems to be a carining sort of youth.

        He will grow out of it , as he is only up to age 47.

  6. Mr Brush
    Holmes

    Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

    Sales 'people' on the other hand are actually evil. Truely dead inside and would happily eat a baby if there was margin in it.

    1. I think so I am?
      Joke

      Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

      So that mean that Fat babies are safe from pedophiles but are lunch for Sales people - Its a scary world for the next generation.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

      "Sales 'people' on the other hand are actually evil. Truely dead inside and would happily eat a baby if there was margin in it."

      I resemble that remark.

      But remember borderline socipaths need love too.

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