Neural Underpinnings of the Identifiable Victim Effect: Affect Shifts Preferences for Giving
2013 (English)In: Journal of Neuroscience, ISSN 0270-6474, E-ISSN 1529-2401, Vol. 33, no 43, 17188-17196 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The "identifiable victim effect" refers to peoples tendency to preferentially give to identified versus anonymous victims of misfortune, and has been proposed to partly depend on affect. By soliciting charitable donations from human subjects during behavioral and neural (i.e., functional magnetic resonance imaging) experiments, we sought to determine whether and how affect might promote the identifiable victim effect. Behaviorally, subjects gave more to orphans depicted by photographs versus silhouettes, and their shift in preferences was mediated by photograph-induced feelings of positive arousal, but not negative arousal. Neurally, while photographs versus silhouettes elicited activity in widespread circuits associated with facial and affective processing, only nucleus accumbens activity predicted and could statistically account for increased donations. Together, these findings suggest that presenting evaluable identifiable information can recruit positive arousal, which then promotes giving. We propose that affect elicited by identifiable stimuli can compel people to give more to strangers, even despite costs to the self.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Society for Neuroscience , 2013. Vol. 33, no 43, 17188-17196 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-101386DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2348-13.2013ISI: 000326088500032OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-101386DiVA: diva2:666376
Funding Agencies|Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE)||National Institutes of Health|5T32MH020006-15|National Science Foundation|SES-1024808SES-1227729|2013-11-222013-11-212013-11-22