Friday, 17 September 2010

Death and destruction in Pakistan and nobody cares

Kevin Rudd has gone off to Pakistan as a way of expressing Australia’s support for that country struck by floods but Australia as a whole seems to care little about the many millions who are now suffering. It is hard to know why but there is not the normal sympathy I would have expected.
Perhaps Joseph Stalin had the answer when he once claimed that a single death was a tragedy, but a million deaths was a statistic. New research from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University validates this sentiment, confirming large-scale tragedies don’t connect with people emotionally in the same way smaller tragedies do.
The new study, entitled “The Scope-Severity Paradox: Why doing more harm is judged to be less harmful,” has been published in the current issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science (published by SAGE) and was conducted by Loran Nordgren of the Kellogg School of Management and Mary-Hunter Morris of Harvard Law School.
The researchers found that a “scope-severity paradox” exists in which judgment of harm tends to be based on emotional reactions, and thus people have a stronger emotional response to singular identifiable victims rather than to an entire crowd of sufferers.
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