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Identified versus Statistical LivesAn Interdisciplinary Perspective$
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I. Glenn Cohen, Norman Daniels, and Nir Eyal

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190217471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190217471.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 December 2021

On the Psychology of the Identifiable Victim Effect

On the Psychology of the Identifiable Victim Effect

(p.13) 1 On the Psychology of the Identifiable Victim Effect
Identified versus Statistical Lives

Deborah A. Small

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews the literature from psychology on aid allocation decisions—focusing specifically on the “identifiable victim effect.” The goal is to build a bridge between what the research from psychology and other disciplines tells us about the effect and the normative discussions that follow. The research goes beyond anecdotal contrasts between a certain legendary identifiable victim and overlooked statistical victims. Instead, controlled experiments test isolated psychological factors, including specificity, vividness, and proportion of a reference group. Thus, it paints a more complete picture of how human sympathy drives decision-making in ways that diverge from normative frameworks discussed elsewhere.

Keywords:   identifiable victim effect, statistical victims, resource allocation, aid allocation, psychology

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