Whom to Help? Immediacy Bias in Humanitarian Aid Allocation

A. Peter McGraw, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA
Leaf Van Boven, University of Colorado at Boulder USA
Michaela Huber, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA
Laura Johnson-Graham, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA
In three experiments, people exhibited an immediacy bias when allocating resources among humanitarian crises they learned about over time. After exposure to a randomly ordered sequence of distressing humanitarian crises, people perceived as more deserving, donated more money to, and were more likely to write a letter calling attention to the final crisis in the sequence to which people experienced immediate emotional reactions. The immediacy bias occurred independent of mortality information, and diminished after emotions had presumably subsided. The tendency to favor the final crisis was diminished when people allocated resources after each crisis, reacting sequentially to immediate emotions.
[ to cite ]:
A. Peter McGraw, Leaf Van Boven, Michaela Huber, and Laura Johnson-Graham (2009) ,"Whom to Help? Immediacy Bias in Humanitarian Aid Allocation", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 190-194.