Mission

The mission of the Arithmetic of Compassion Website is to raise awareness of psychological obstacles to compassion, including psychic numbing, pseudoinefficacy, and the prominence effect.

We believe that by raising awareness of these phenomena we can lessen the impact they have on our humanitarian decision making. We also provide suggestions for how you can take action to combat these cognitive biases and tackle problems like mass atrocities, famine, climate change, and other critical issues.

The Arithmetic of Compassion Website is supported by Decision Research, a nonprofit research institute that investigates decision making.

People

As scholars interested in social and environmental issues in the modern world, we have increasingly focused on these issues of why human beings make "bad" or irrational decisions when faced with crucial ethical and practical questions. This project, Arithmetic of Compassion, arose from decades of study and experience in psychology and humanities fields, as an effort to better communicate research findings and expand the conversation. Here are some of our key people:

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Paul Slovic

Paul Slovic is a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and a founder and President of Decision Research. He studies human judgment, decision making, and the psychology of risk. With colleagues worldwide, he has developed methods to describe risk perceptions and measure their impacts on individuals and society. His recent work examines "psychic numbing" and the failure to respond to mass human tragedies. 

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Daniel Västfjäll

Daniel Västfjäll is a professor of cognitive psychology at Linköping University and a research scientist at Decision Research. His research focuses on the role of affect in judgment and decision making, perception and psychophysics.

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Scott Slovic

Scott Slovic is Professor of Literature and Environment and chair of the English Department at the University of Idaho, with an appointment in the Department of Natural Resources and Society as well. The founding president of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment from 1992 to 1995, he has edited ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, the leading journal in the field of ecocriticism, since 1995. He has worked for many years, as a teacher and writer, on topics related to ecological literary studies, environmental communication, and interdisciplinary approaches to the environmental humanities.  Much of his current research and teaching focuses on “information management” (how information is collected, communicated, and received) in the contexts of humanitarian and environmental crises.

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Leisha Wharfield

Leisha Wharfield is the administrator at Decision Research

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Andrew Quist

Andrew Quist is an administrative coordinator and research associate at Decision Research