MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?
Answer: We find that donors pay more attention to the number of people killed when donating to a disaster, than to the number of people who are affected (survive but need money). In other words, people are more likely to donate, and donate more money, the more people die in a disaster, but not when more people survive and need assistance.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Answer: The finding that is most unexpected is that donors often do not think who is actually receiving the money when making a donation. This is can be nevertheless justified. Our gut reaction could be to focus on fatalities than on survivors.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Answer: I am not sure there is a takeaway message for any of these two groups. Our message is tailored for donors: keep in mind how many people need money and what the actual need is when donating, but also for policymakers eliciting donations for disasters: promote disasters based on the size of need, and make all information about needed assistance clear.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Answer: My recommendation is to examine conditions under which people focus more on those needing assistance. In simple words, when do donors start diverting their attention from people killed, to people needing help. What can we do to help them focus on the latter category?
The Number of Fatalities Drives Disaster Aid: Increasing Sensitivity to People in Need
Ioannis Evangelidis and Bram Van den Bergh
Psychological Science 0956797613490748, first published on September 20, 2013 doi:10.1177/0956797613490748