Domestically and internationally, millions of people struggle to survive in the face of poverty, disease, food insufficiency, natural disasters, and human malevolence. Those individuals and governments fortunate to have the ability and desire to help those in need are inundated with requests for vital aid. Many do respond. Humanitarian aid provided by individuals, NGOs, and governments, though large in some sense, is but a fraction of what is needed and what could be provided. For those in a position to help, decisions are strongly motivated by perceived efficacy. Inefficacy, real or perceived, shrivels response, even among those who have the desire and the means to protect and improve lives. It is tragic, indeed, when efficacy goes unrecognized and vital aid that could be provided is withheld due to the illusion of ineffectiveness that we have named “pseudoinefficacy.” Our research seeks to explore and document the root psychological causes of pseudoinefficacy and to develop ways to mitigate its harmful consequences.
Researchers at Decision Research maintain an ancillary website that is dedicated to educating the public about psychological obstacles to compassion, arithmeticofcompassion.org.
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