Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 235–257

Explaining the Identifiable Victim Effect


DOI: 10.1023/A:1007740225484

Cite this article as:
JENNI, K. & LOEWENSTEIN, G. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty (1997) 14: 235. doi:10.1023/A:1007740225484


It is widely believed that people are willing to expend greater resources to save the lives of identified victims than to save equal numbers of unidentified or statistical victims. There are many possible causes of this disparity which have not been enumerated previously or tested empirically. We discuss four possible causes of the identifiable victim effect and present the results of two studies which indicate that the most important cause of the disparity in treatment of identifiable and statistical lives is that, for identifiable victims, a high proportion of those at risk can be saved.

value of lifeidentifiable victims

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Engineering and Public PolicyCarnegie Mellon UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Social and Decision SciencesCarnegie Mellon UniversityUSA