How Images Trigger Empathy

The commonality of these photos is that each shows an individual victim. We have all heard that one death is a tragedy, one million deaths a statistic. To perceive tragedy, we have to see a person (or, apparently, an animal) as an individual.

Psychologists call this the “identifiable victim effect.” And one of the surest ways to see someone as an individual is to actually see them.

People who work in the empathy business know well about the identifiable-victim effect, even if they don’t use the name.