As Seppälä explains, this “empathy gap” occurs because it’s natural for us to feel more compassion for disasters affecting people and places we feel similar to or familiar with, and for situations and victims we know more details about.
“Research shows that we do feel more empathy for people that we feel are more similar to us,” Seppälä told The Huffington Post. “Many people have been to Paris, and can imagine being in a concert hall on a Friday night with an American band. We can picture ourselves there. There are many reasons why we can feel an affinity for Paris — it’s much more similar to us than Beirut in many ways.”