We see donation appeals everywhere these days - to help the people in Japan, to help the people in Darfur, to help the people in Haiti. What influences our decision to give? An interesting study comes from British psychologists, who analyzed how individuals respond to donation appeals in the wake of man-made disasters - like war - versus natural disasters. The authors around Hanna Zagefka from Royal Holloway University in London found that natural disasters elicit more donations than those caused by people. Their explanation: people tend to assign some blame to the victims of man-made disaster, while they blame no one for being overrun by a Tsunami.
Douglas Van Belle
We have just gotten through back-to-back blizzards worse than most seen in a century, evidenced in part by the stunned old-timers and record-setting snowfall levels. That said, what we have recently experienced here is a far cry from the devastation and suffering caused by natural disasters in other parts of the world, such as the recent typhoon in Southeast Asia and earthquake in Haiti. But that’s not the impression one would take away from the local and national news coverage of these snowstorms.
Rarely warranted hyperbole has become typical in coverage of natural disasters. Take, for example, what some print and broadcast news outlets named their snowstorm coverage: “Snowmageddon”, “Snowpocalypse”, and “Snowtorius B.I.G.” Jon Stewart, executive producer and host of Comedy Central’s fake news program The Daily Show, poked fun at these ridiculous appellations. And quite rightly, I think.