Got a Case of Compassion Fatigue? Why We Find it Hard to Give to Causes That Need it

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The dictator Joseph Stalin once infamously said that one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic. It turns out science is supporting parts of the fact that our empathy does have limits.

The reason why we give generously to one cause, and seemingly not at all to another is an interesting one. Phycologist Paul Slovic answers this question with his new research.

It turns out that information and statistics about causes don’t effect us as much as seeing it. Therefore, hearing a story about one individual is something we can relate to and feel we can make a difference so we give. On the flip side a huge statistic of a cause that really needs attention makes our brain tune out, because we feel like its too overwhelming for us to help, so we end up doing nothing.

In the end the research showed that the majority of people when faced with a huge problem to give to, decline to do what they are able to do because they feel bad about what they can’t do.

Basically we let our guilt override our decision to do good.

It’s understandable, but not necessarily acceptable. Shouldn’t we have more compassion all around?

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