Adolescents View Overwhelming Lack of Empathy for Popular TV Characters Experiencing Pain What has been your reaction to the study’s findings?

Response: I believe understanding how pain is portrayed in popular media- the societal and cultural narratives about pain- is among the most powerful influences on children’s developing understanding of not only their pain experiences, but how they show up for others who suffer. Understanding why, when and for whom empathy for suffering fails or succeeds couldn’t be more timely in the world right now. What does the portrayal of pain in movies and tv and film teach adolescents? 

Response: Youth learn by watching. They learn by others modelling for them, how to react and respond to pain. Children tell us they relate more to their favourite characters than people in real life that they don’t know. So we should hope those characters are teaching them well about how to live in the world, and in this case, what to expect for themselves and others when they hurt and suffer. How would you like Netflix and movie / television creators to respond to your study?

Response: I want them to take this seriously and get excited and inspired to directly influence millions of children around the world. They have a monumental opportunity to influence the compassion and humanity we see in our children and our future world. Why does research in this area matter?

Response: Because media is the message. Media is one of the most powerful engines of influence on children’s development and could be harnessed to address pain and suffering in the world. Stories matter. Fictional stories can matter more in some cases than real life stories. So let’s create stories to reflect the world we want to see: A humane, diverse, inclusive, equitable, empathic, compassionate, and caring world.


Cormier, Allisona; Mueri, Kendraa; Pavlova, Mariaa; Hood, Annab; Li, Queeniea; Thurston, Idiac; Jordan, Abbied; Noel, Melaniea,e,f,*. The sociocultural context of adolescent pain: portrayals of pain in popular adolescent media. PAIN ():10.1097/j.pain.0000000000003216, March 27, 2024. | DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000003216

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Last Updated on April 2, 2024 by