Scope insensitivity in helping decisions: Is it a matter of culture and values?

Tehila Kogut, Paul Slovic, Daniel Västfjäll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The singularity effect of identifiable victims refers to people's greater willingness to help a single concrete victim compared with a group of victims experiencing the same need. We present 3 studies exploring values and cultural sources of this effect. In the first study, the singularity effect was found only among Western Israelis and not among Bedouin participants (a more collectivist group). In Study 2, individuals with higher collectivist values were more likely to contribute to a group of victims. Finally, the third study demonstrates a more causal relationship between collectivist values and the singularity effect by showing that enhancing people's collectivist values using a priming manipulation produces similar donations to single victims and groups. Moreover, participants' collectivist preferences mediated the interaction between the priming conditions and singularity of the recipient. Implications for several areas of psychology and ways to enhance caring for groups in need are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1042-1052
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • Cultural differences
  • Helping behavior
  • Identifiable victims
  • Individualism and collectivism
  • Singularity effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology (all)
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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