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Identifiable Victim Effect: Definition, Examples and Effects

The Identifiable Victim Effect is a phenomenon in which people are more likely to donate to a cause when they can identify with a single person affected by it. This effect has been studied extensively in the field of psychology and has been found to have a significant impact on charitable giving. Here, we will explore the definition, examples, and effects of the Identifiable Victim Effect.


Definition: The Identifiable Victim Effect is a psychological phenomenon in which people are more likely to donate to a cause when they can identify with a single person affected by it. This effect is based on the idea that people are more likely to empathize with a single person than with a large group of people.


Examples: The Identifiable Victim Effect has been studied extensively in the field of psychology. One example of this effect is the “Kitty Genovese” case, in which a woman was murdered in New York City in 1964. Despite the fact that 38 people witnessed the attack, no one intervened to help her. This case has been used to illustrate the power of the Identifiable Victim Effect, as people were more likely to help if they could identify with the victim.


Effects: The Identifiable Victim Effect has been found to have a significant impact on charitable giving. Studies have shown that people are more likely to donate to a cause when they can identify with a single person affected by it. This effect has also been found to be more powerful when the victim is a child or a person of the same race or ethnicity as the donor.


Overall, the Identifiable Victim Effect is a powerful psychological phenomenon that has been found to have a significant impact on charitable giving. By understanding this effect, organizations can better target their fundraising efforts and maximize their donations.


Do you want to expand your knowledge on this topic? Read our full in-depth article on cognitive biases.


Do you have extra 15 minutes today? Takeour fun and interactive quiz to learn which of 16 reasoning styles you use, your overall level of rationality, and what you can do now to improve your rationality skills.

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