Happy to help-if it's not too sad: The effect of mood on helping identifiable and unidentifiable victims

Hagit Sabato*, Tehila Kogut

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


People's preference to help single victims about whom they have some information is known as the identifiable victim effect. Previous research suggests that this effect stems from an intensive emotional reaction toward specific victims. The findings of two studies consistently show that the identifiability effect is attenuated when the subject is in a positive mood. Study 1 (along with a pilot study) demonstrate causal relationships between mood and identifiability, while using different manipulations to induce moods. In both studies, donations to identified victims exceeded donations to unidentified people-in the Negative Mood manipulations-while participants in the Positive Mood conditions showed no such preference. In Study 2, individual differences in people's moods interacted with the recipient's identifiability in predicting donations, demonstrating that the identifiability effect is attenuated by a positive mood. In addition, emotional reactions toward the victims replicate the donation pattern, suggesting emotions as a possible explanation for the observed donation pattern.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere0252278
Pages (from-to)e0252278
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6 June
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Sabato, Kogut. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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