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(Dietrich + 2017)

The Limits of Empathy and Foreign

 Aid Simone Dietrich
Patrick Lown
Hugh Ward1
University of Essex April 2, 2017

"Lumsdaine argues that for the most part the basis of foreign aid is humanitarian concern, which he links to empathy with suffering (1993, 9). There is growing evidence that empathy matters to attitudes towards foreign policy and to areas related to foreign aid. For instance McFarland and Mathews (2005) find that individual differences in dispositional empathy and global knowledge correlate with endorsement of human rights ideals. Newman et al (2015) find support from national survey data that humanitarian concern correlates with support for migration into the US.

Using a survey experiment they find that a treatment highlighting the harsh and unsafe conditions and poverty in the country migrants came from only affected attitudes among subjects scoring relatively high on an empathy scale. Drury, Olson and Van Belle (2005) show that empathy enters into US decisions on whether to give disaster assistance, and how much to give. They illustrate the complex interplay between empathy for those suffering disaster at home and overseas. We focus on the way in which empathy varies, even for those with the same objective need for help."