>Charity, and what it says about human psychology


This article says that £10 million was donated by the British public in just 24 hours from Friday to Saturday evening (15th-16th Jan). Indeed this was when my wife and I made a donation too. But why not earlier? Outside of this 24 hours Britons only raised £2 million. And I for one did know about the issue before. So is it just that we needed time to process all the information and breach some sort of barrier within us that made us think donating was necessary? Are we so selfish that we are able to delude ourselves into not donating until the evidence is just too strong? If so this has profound implications about the synchronizations of human psychology in that so many people felt that barrier breached at the same time. On the other hand there is a possibility that people simply did not have time to think about the news until they got to the weekend. In this case it is an extremely sad indication of how much pressure and work people are put under that they can’t even find 2 minutes to donate to a good cause.

What do you think?


  • >well, i think people have to balance living their own lives with helping others – unfortunatly its easier to be worried about ourselves – its not our fault but…than to worry about people we havn't even met Robert says: don't say it to me. Post it upRobin says: it often takes 'charity days' or news to make peoples suffering seem more 'real' to us more prominen

  • >Haha! You included the msn text in your copy and paste!Anyway tho.. Yes you're right that a balance is needed between helping yourself and helping others (see the 'Do you think your life has more worth/value than that held by others?' debate). On the second point you seem to take the first view, that charity is triggered by emotion but that in order to make that charitable decision we have to have a certain amount of evidence/emotional persuasion to push us into action.If this is so then why did everyone make the decision at the same time? Coincidence or something more?

  • >I'm going to base my answer on two facts, that when women live together in a close-knit group they begin to synchronize periods to the timing of the most dominant person. The other fact is about the existence of group pschology. Now I've only read about group psychology from Freud's perspective, and as a cause of war (by the way Tedd Gurr is fantastic on this if you can understand his work) but the mere implications of group psychology's existence are huge.We know that human society is made up of a patchwork of groups, often with many of them overlapping, and all of them changing over time. We know that people are influenced on a group level through things like religion, ideas, shared experience etc that causes us to identify with one another. But what is the nature of these groups? Is it just a shared desire to hang around one another?The question implies something more and so I think that perhaps just as women subconsciously copy the dominant person when in a close group, so do people within any other group too. I think that human groups are more than just a collection of individuals. When we group, just as psychologists and sociologists say, we assume a group identity. So when some people start to feel personally convinced that effectively sends out a ripple that triggers many other people to act too.Now what groups this ripple passed through would be interesting to find out, but I reckon that there is a scale of strength in group identity. It goes from from very loosely knit groups at the weak end to groups like terrorists at the other, who all have an extreme commitment to a shared goal. Why is the latter so strong? Because the terrorists freely give up their individual identity to pursue the group one.I'd be very interested to find out if there is anything physical about this relationship through chemicals etc if anyone knows?

  • >Interesting finding:Aside from language, the facial expressions and memes (units of cultural information transmitted from one mind to another) mirror neurons have been discovered to exist. These are brain cells that respond to the actions of other individuals as if one were making them oneself. They basically mimic the behaviour of others in your brain.Also, a part of the brain called the Amygdala actually helps to determine who you form these groups with. When white participants view pictures of faces while in an MRI machine, the amygdala is more strongly activated if the faces are black. Hence where racism comes from. Is it possible that racists simply have an over active amygdala?

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