The Death of Hundreds Is Just a Statistic—But It Doesn’t Have to Be

Imagine that tomorrow I were to show you a newspaper article describing a deadly wildfire. Do you think you’d be more upset upon reading that 10,000 people died than if you read that five people died?

This scenario makes people engage in affective forecasting—predicting their future emotional states. We expect that hearing about 10,000 deaths would make us sadder than hearing about five deaths.

But that’s not what happens.

Social psychologists Elizabeth W. Dunn and Claire Ashton-James ran a study in which half of the participants received short briefs about longer newspaper articles. Some got briefs saying that five people

Stai leggendo un'anteprima, registrati per continuare a leggere.

Altro da Nautilus

Nautilus8 min letti
Gaia, the Scientist: What if the first woman scientist was simply the first woman?
There exists a social hierarchy within science that strikes people who are not mixed up in it as ridiculous. It goes like this: Mathematicians are superior to Physicists, who are, in turn, superior to Chemists, who are of course, superior to Biologis
Nautilus9 min letti
You Can’t Dissect a Virtual Cadaver: What is lost when we lose in-person learning.
Last year, my first in medical school at Columbia University, I used a bone saw to slice through the top half of a cadaver’s skull, revealing a gray brain lined with purple blood vessels. This was Clinical Gross Anatomy, the first-year course that ha
Nautilus9 min lettiScience & Mathematics
Our Most Effective Weapon Is Imagination: Why science changes everything.
In his Theaetetus, Plato remarks to Socrates: “This pathos is proper to the philosopher: It is the thaumazein. And philosophy has no other point of departure than this.” The word, which contains the root thauma, the same that appears in thaumaturgy,