Privileged Problems via Availability Bias

Privileging the Question

“People gravitate towards flashpoint issues that either receive a significant amount of media coverage or are hot-button concerns in that person’s social group. As a general psychological principle–called the availability bias–people perceive something as more valuable the more they’ve heard it (Schwarz et al. 2007). This is as true for the activist cause we choose to work on as it is for the brands of soda we buy and the artists that we choose to admire. As a result, societal issues that already get a lot of attention tend to stay popular, and often serve as a point of entry for new activists.

Issues that are confrontational are more likely to be covered by the media, and therefore be seen as more important by budding activists. Many issues that cause a vast amount of suffering get little attention because they are systemic problems and there are no dramatic events occurring to thrust them into the spotlight. Activists are therefor likely to ignore some of the most serious problems and focus instead on the most confrontational” -Change of Heart by Nick Cooney

This is the source of demand for the Open Philanthropy Project and EA Ventures

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