Examining the presence of empathy in college students as it relates to food insecurity

Date

2020-08

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Abstract

With the mantra of Family and Consumer Sciences being the science and art of living well in our complex world paired with the growing amount of food insecurity present within the population where Family and Consumer Sciences professionals work, it is important to understand food insecurity, as well as how to show empathy towards food-insecure individuals. The purpose of this study was to examine food insecurity in college students in the state of Arkansas, as well as to examine feelings of empathy towards food-insecure individuals among college students. The exploratory quantitative study used a survey design and found that undergraduate college students in six Arkansas universities report food insecurity at the rate of 43.5%. Regarding feelings of empathy towards food-insecure individuals, females are more empathetic than males, and married students are more empathetic than students of other marital statuses. Although major in college was examined, it was not found to have any significant differences in empathy levels. The Social Cognitive Theory was used as the underlying theory to examine food insecurity empathy; behavioral, cognitive, and environmental constructs within the model were found to impact food insecurity empathy. College administrators, faculty members, community members, and students all have a vested interest in the food insecurity levels of college students, but also in the ability to practice their professions in empathetic manners. This study has important implications for all levels of community stakeholders in Arkansas as well as Family and Consumer practitioners and others that may work with food-insecure populations. Given the high levels of food insecurity in Arkansas, there is an increased focus on working with this population, which brings with it an increased need for empathetic interactions.

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Keywords

food insecurity, Empathy, College students

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