Written by Hooria Jazaieri.
Why is it easier to love thy neighbor rather than to love thy stranger?
In an ideal world, we would distribute our kindness and compassion to all beings, without preference. However, a great deal of research suggests that this is not the case—and a recent study from Stanford University suggests that, ironically, positive emotions may play a role in compelling us to help neighbors instead of strangers.
This is what social scientists call the “identifiable victim effect”—the tendency to preferentially give to those we can identify with as people, rather than to those we perceive as being anonymous or vague.
In the study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, Alexander Genevsky and colleagues asked 11 participants to give donations to orphan children in Africa—and then scanned the brains of 22 more people as they made their charitable decisions.
To read the full article, click here.