The effect: I see only what I want to see.
Of the many facts there are out there, our brain only chooses the ones that comply with our expectations and ideas. At the same time, it refuses to accept new knowledge and new facts that contradict our stereotypes (Semmelweis reflex).
This is why we prefer to watch the same TV and YouTube channels and go to the same websites. And this is also why we believe news programs so easily — because they comply with our opinion and they are easy to digest. If you are sure that GMO is dangerous, you will easily believe even the most unprofessional article on this topic and ignore the articles with the opposite opinion from serious journals.
The same happens to our attitude toward public people: haters usually only pay attention to their flaws and mistakes, and fans will ignore even the most obvious mistakes.
Identifiable victim effect
President Bush holds Jessica McClure.
The effect: “The death of one person is a tragedy and a million deaths is statistics.”
Across the world, thousands of people go missing and die of famine, but we rarely hear about this in the media. And the story of one person who was raped becomes the most-discussed topic for many months all over social media and the press.
This happens because a message about one specific person sounds more persuasive than statistical data, it creates a feeling like you know this person and it makes you feel an emotional response. This not only affects the audience, but also the government structures. Specific people receive help more often than groups of people.
The story of baby Jessica, who fell into a well in 1987, was shown live. After 58 hours of work on the part of the rescue team, the little girl was saved. As a result, the amount of donated money was about $800,000. At the same time, every year, 830,000 children die from accidental injuries and many of these deaths could have been prevented. But there is never enough money for prevention.