Sunday, March 11, 2007

Appreciate Irrational Giving

Study shows that people have a bias toward giving more when hearing about an individuals suffering, but not when they hear about widespread suffering. Put another way, single death: tragedy; a million: statistic. However, learning about the bias just makes you not care about the individual.

“Thinking about problems analytically can easily suppress sympathy for smaller-scale disasters without, our research suggests, producing much of an increase in caring for larger-scale disasters”, the researchers said. "Insight, in this situation, seems to breed callousness".

people/the government irrationally give millions to a few thousand 9/11 victims' families while ignoring millions of other suffering hardships from the untimely death of a loved one. However, this study suggests that charitable giving is not a zero sum game. Not giving to a particular cause will not necessarily produce more funds for another cause.

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