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Attention, personal stories, statistics, and charity Udayan Roy.

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1 Attention, personal stories, statistics, and charity Udayan Roy

2 HELPING THOSE IN NEED When it comes to inspiring the people to help the needy, personal stories matter, statistics don’t

3 The work of Paul Slovic "If I look at the mass I will never act": Psychic numbing and genocide, by Paul Slovic, Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 2, no. 2, April 2007, pp. 79-95. "If I look at the mass I will never act": Psychic numbing and genocide

4 One is O.K. “If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” – Mother Teresa Most people are caring and will exert great effort to rescue "the one" whose needy plight comes to their attention. These same good people, however, often become numbly indifferent to the plight of "the one" who is "one of many" in a much greater problem. — Paul Slovic

5 Emotions matter The statistics of mass murder or genocide, no matter how large the numbers, fail to convey the true meaning of such atrocities. The numbers fail to spark emotion or feeling and thus fail to motivate action.

6 Government action is essential Because we cannot only depend on our feelings to push us to action, we must create and commit ourselves to institutional and political responses based upon reasoned analysis of our moral obligations

7 Slovic’s experiment Slovic and his team presented some people with the opportunity to donate to a starving girl named Rokia, and others to a starving boy named Moussa. People responded compassionately to their cause.

8 Slovic’s experiment He then presented a third group of people with the opportunity to donate to both Rokia and Moussa, helping both of them equally. Surprisingly, people were less likely to donate anything at all when they were presented with two starving children.

9 Show all or just one?

10 One group of potential donors were shown a picture of eight sick children and told that $300,000 was needed to give the necessary medical care to all eight children Donors in another group were shown only one child’s picture—randomly selected for each donor—and told that the sick child needed $300,000 for medical treatment

11 Show all or just one?

12 A journalist uses Slovic’s result For New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, Slovic’s findings have meant focusing on one person’s story at a time. Devoted to raising awareness of human rights and poverty, he says, “My job as a journalist is to find these larger issues that I want to address but then find some microcosm of it, some Rokia who can open those portals and hopefully get people to care.”

13 Non-profits use Slovic’s result In the non-profit world, some organizations have found success by creating a model around this idea – child sponsorship organizations – Adoption agencies – Kiva, a platform for person-to-person micro loans


15 Microlending Microfinance organizations weren’t new, but a model in which one could seemingly loan directly to an individual was. As a result, Kiva exploded onto the American donor scene.

16 A moral dilemma Even though in both of these cases donations aren’t going directly into the hands of the recipient, Kiva capitalized on the human instinct to take action to help one person in need … aren’t going directly – … and our general unwillingness to read the fine print! There are some thorny moral issues about transparency here

17 Helping students Organizations like have used this same model to fund education projects within the United Kiva too now has a “lend to a student” page

18 Helping students


20 Helping those in need: personal stories, not statistics “Donations in response to the identified individual, Rokia, were far greater than donations in response to the statistical portrayal of the food crisis. …” – Paul Slovic

21 Helping those in need: personal stories, not statistics “… Most important, however, and most discouraging, was the fact that coupling the statistical realities with Rokia’s story significantly reduced the contributions to Rokia. Alternatively, one could say that using Rokia’s story to ‘put a face behind the statistical problem’ did not do much to increase donations.” – Paul Slovic

22 We can’t comprehend numbers Chris Jordan, an American artist, tries to use art to make numbers matter to us at an emotional level Watch: dan_pictures_some_shocking_stats.html dan_pictures_some_shocking_stats.html

23 Paul Slovic on video wo0g wo0g

24 Dehumanization and genocide While putting a face and a life story to a problem often tugs at our emotions and spurs us into helpful action, the reverse can also be true In various cases of genocide, the dirty work of mass murder was done by large numbers of ordinary citizens who were taught by the instigators of the genocide to see their victims as non-human, as animals, as cockroaches

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