Whom to Help? Immediacy Bias in Judgments and Decisions About Humanitarian Aid

11 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2012

See all articles by Leaf Van Boven

Leaf Van Boven

University of Colorado Boulder

Michaela Huber

University of Colorado at Boulder

A. Peter McGraw

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Marketing

Laura Johnson-Graham

University of Colorado at Boulder

Date Written: March 16, 2011

Abstract

People exhibit an immediacy bias when making judgments and decisions about humanitarian aid, perceiving as more deserving and donating disproportionately to humanitarian crises that happen to arouse immediate emotion. The immediacy bias produced different serial position effects, contingent on decision timing (Experiment 1). When making allocation decisions directly after viewing to four emotionally evocative films about four different humanitarian crises, participants donated disproportionately more to the final, immediate crisis, in contrast, when making donation decisions sequentially, after viewing each of the four crises, participants donated disproportionately to the immediate crisis. The immediacy bias was associated with "scope neglect." causing people to take action against relatively less deadly crises (Experiments 2 and 3). The immediacy bias emerged even when participants were warned about emotional manipulation (Experiment 3). The immediacy bias diminished over time, as immediate emotions presumably subsided (Experiment 2). Implications for charitable giving, serial position effects, and the influence of emotion on choice are discussed.

Keywords: decision making, order effects, serial position, affect, emotion, charitable giving

Suggested Citation

Van Boven, Leaf and Huber, Michaela and McGraw, A. Peter and Johnson-Graham, Laura, Whom to Help? Immediacy Bias in Judgments and Decisions About Humanitarian Aid (March 16, 2011). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 115, pp. 283-293, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1995802

Leaf Van Boven (Contact Author)

University of Colorado Boulder ( email )

University of Colorado Boulder
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, 345 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
303.735.5238 (Phone)
303.492.2967 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://psych.colorado.edu/~vanboven/

Michaela Huber

University of Colorado at Boulder

1070 Edinboro Drive
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

A. Peter McGraw

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Marketing ( email )

United States

Laura Johnson-Graham

University of Colorado at Boulder

1070 Edinboro Drive
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

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