I always wonder about this. Thousands of people are dying every day in really poor countries in horrific circumstances. Yet, when one cute kid (call her Calee Anthony) dies, people flip out. Why?
In [a] study people were paid to participate in an unrelated psychological quiz, and on the way out they were given the opportunity to donate up to $5.00 of their earnings to Save The Children. They were given three options:
- They could donate to help Rokia, a 7 year-old Malian girl. The subjects were shown a picture of Rokia. They were willing to give $2.25.
- They could donate to help the hundreds of thousands of children in eastern Africa who were starving. They were willing to give only $1.15.
- The third option was to help Rokia specifically, but along with this request subjects were also given the statistics about the other starving east African kids. The same people who were willing to give $2.25 when it was just for Rokia, were only willing to give $1.40 when the request to help Rokia included information about the larger statistics!