Arvid Erlandsson: "The prominence effect in helping dilemmas"
Abstract: Why do people sometimes prefer to help few rather than many victims?
We let participants first read several helping dilemmas where they stated, for example how many outgroup-members that must be treated in Project A to make it equally attractive as Project B which could treat 100 ingroup-members (matching task). At a later time, participants had to choose to support one of the two projects that they previously matched to be equally attractive (choice task).
Several helping dilemma attributes were prominent, meaning that they influenced preferences more in choice tasks than in matching tasks. To exemplify, although 72.5% expressed that ingroup- and outgroup-lives were equally valuable in the matching task, 93.5% of these supported the ingroup-project when forced to make a choice. This suggests that some preferences in helping dilemmas only appear when people have to make a choice.