The singularity effect of identified victims in separate and joint evaluations

Tehila Kogut*, Ilana Ritov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

259 Scopus citations


People's greater willingness to help identified victims, relative to non-identified ones, was examined by eliciting real contributions to targets varying in singularity (a single individual vs. a group of several individuals), and the availability of individually identifying information (the main difference being the inclusion of a picture in the "identified" versions). Results of the first and second experiments support the proposal that for identified victims, contributions for a single victim exceed contributions for a group when these are judged separately, but preference reverses when one has to choose between contributing to the single individual and contributing to the group. In a third experiment, ratings of emotional response were elicited in addition to willingness to contribute judgments. Results suggest that the greater contribution to a single victim relative to the group stems from intensified emotions evoked by a single identified victim rather than from emotions evoked by identified victims in general.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)106-116
Number of pages11
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • Identified victim effect
  • Preference reversals
  • Willingness to pay


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