Friday, November 29, 2013

If It Bleeds, It Leads

Interesting.  We are not really interested in helping people we could help.  We direct aid based on many people have already died.  Tell me again how government is "rational"?

The Number of Fatalities Drives Disaster Aid: Increasing Sensitivity to People in Need 

Ioannis Evangelidis & Bram Van den Bergh 
Psychological Science, November 2013, Pages 2226-2234 

Abstract: In the studies reported here, an analysis of financial donations in response to natural disasters showed that the amount of money allocated for humanitarian aid depends on the number of fatalities but not on the number of survivors who are affected by the disaster (i.e., the actual beneficiaries of the aid). On the basis of the experimental evidence, we discuss the underlying cause and provide guidelines to increase sensitivity to people in need.

Nod to Kevin Lewis, who is in fact rational.


John Thacker said...

Theory in attempt to claim that this could be rational:

Perhaps claims of how many people we could help, and how effective it would be, (or even reports of how much monetary damages were sustained) are much more subject to inaccuracy than reports of how many people have already died, which tend to be the most accurate.

Anonymous said...

What is the correlation between the two?

Tom said...

I would suggest that the response depends on neither the number of fatalities nor the number of survivors. It will correlate nicely with the volume of news coverage.

This yields an answer to the proposed question: government will be about as rational as the collective electorate, as guided by the sensationalist press.