How far is the suffering? The role of psychological distance and victims’ identifiability in donation decisions

Tehila Kogut, Ilana Ritov, Enrico Rubaltelli, Nira Liberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

We are regularly told about people at various locations around the globe, both near and far, who are in distress or in dire need. In the present research, we examined how the prospective donor’s psychological distance from a given victim may interact with the victim’s identification to determine the donor’s willingness to accede to requests for donations to help the victim in question. In three studies, we measured willingness to donate (Studies 1 & 2) and actual donations (Study 3) to identified or unidentified victims, while measuring (Study 1) or manipulating (Studies 2 & 3) the psychological distance between prospective donors and the recipients. Results indicate that increasing the psychological distance between prospective donors and victims decreases willingness to help — but only when the victims are unidentified, not when they are identified. This suggests that victim’s identification mitigates the effect of distance on donor’s willingness to help.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-466
Number of pages9
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Volume13
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018

Keywords

  • Distance
  • Donation decisions
  • Identifiable victim effect

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