Why are educators most important
What can an individual achieve, on which bucket should the drop of his help fall that he is able to give? Those who donate are in no way acting rationally and are not trying to achieve the greatest possible benefit. On the contrary, the impulse to help is carried by emotions. Aid organizations know this and base their campaigns on it. In order to move people to help, the misery of the world must be given a face. The most important donation lesson from psychology is: The individual case is touching, everything else is sober statistics.
For example, Christopher Hsee from the University of Chicago has shown in several studies that the fate of one individual motivates a greater willingness to help than the unhappiness of many. His experiments showed that one child received more donations than a comparison of 20 boys and girls with a similar fate put together. Actually absurd, because whoever really wants to make a difference should give more to a group of people than to an individual. However, numbers or the fate of large groups do not affect feelings, they hardly arouse empathy - but that has to happen for people to help. On the other hand, we can connect with the story of an individual person, we can empathize with it.
The children's aid organization Unicef makes a baby from Africa shine
So it is important to arouse the right feelings. On the websites of large aid organizations, for example, small, very touching children often smile at visitors, who are mostly happy. On the website of SOS Children's Villages, for example, or at Doctors Without Borders, where you can find a picture of an African girl smiling happily and playing with a young doctor's stethoscope. An image that conveys closeness, hope and warmth. At Welthungerhilfe, laughing children hold their hands under a clear stream of drinking water. The children's charity Unicef is making a baby from Africa shine, three women are smiling in the background of the picture. As a cynic one could say: The misery of the world has a rather happy expression on its face.
Of course, the photos don't reflect the reality of abject poverty - but they motivate donors rather than depictions of misery and suffering. People quickly turn away from negative images. Donation organizations therefore rely on positive emotions for their calls. Psychologists Alexander Genevsky and Brian Knutson from Stanford University have shown that these work. They compared calls from sick people who tried to crowdfund to get donations. The analysis of more than 13,000 such appeals showed that appeals with happy patients raised significantly more money than those with photos of desperate sick people.
That sounds contradictory at first, shouldn't compassion motivate people to help? Obviously not. The psychologists argue that positive images make it easier to imagine that help will actually work and that the patient will recover. Negative images of a wretched person, on the other hand, trigger instinctive distancing: instead of giving, most passers-by, for example, rush wordlessly past a neglected beggar. The unfortunate awakens dark emotions in them, they flee from their own feelings.
In general, donors need to have the feeling that they are making a difference. The more powerless a donor feels in the face of massive misery, the more likely he is to refrain from giving at all. Nothing helps anyway, he thinks. Researchers have observed that helpers give more if, for example, they can save 80 out of 100 people instead of 200 out of 1,000. That is absurd, after all, more could have been done in the second case. But the feeling of powerlessness sets in with greater force, because in that case one could not help even more unfortunate people.
Aid organizations know this and tell personalized stories of success to make donors feel like they made a difference. Because that is also part of it: Those who give rewards themselves. Neuroscientists have found that donating sets the brain's reward centers into lively activity. This creates a warm feeling from the certainty that you have acted correctly. This is how benefactors can definitely make a difference. Surveys have shown that people who give regularly to good causes are more likely to be happy with themselves and their lives.
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