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Iconic photographs and the ebb and flow of empathic response to humanitarian disasters

Overview of attention for article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, January 2017
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (98th percentile)

Mentioned by

news
53 news outlets
blogs
7 blogs
policy
1 policy source
twitter
132 tweeters
facebook
2 Facebook pages
googleplus
4 Google+ users
reddit
1 Redditor

Citations

dimensions_citation
25 Dimensions

Readers on

mendeley
108 Mendeley
citeulike
2 CiteULike
Title
Iconic photographs and the ebb and flow of empathic response to humanitarian disasters
Published in
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, January 2017
DOI 10.1073/pnas.1613977114
Pubmed ID
Authors

Paul Slovic, Daniel Västfjäll, Arvid Erlandsson, Robin Gregory

Abstract

The power of visual imagery is well known, enshrined in such familiar sayings as "seeing is believing" and "a picture is worth a thousand words." Iconic photos stir our emotions and transform our perspectives about life and the world in which we live. On September 2, 2015, photographs of a young Syrian child, Aylan Kurdi, lying face-down on a Turkish beach, filled the front pages of newspapers worldwide. These images brought much-needed attention to the Syrian war that had resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and created millions of refugees. Here we present behavioral data demonstrating that, in this case, an iconic photo of a single child had more impact than statistical reports of hundreds of thousands of deaths. People who had been unmoved by the relentlessly rising death toll in Syria suddenly appeared to care much more after having seen Aylan's photograph; however, this newly created empathy waned rather quickly. We briefly examine the psychological processes underlying these findings, discuss some of their policy implications, and reflect on the lessons they provide about the challenges to effective intervention in the face of mass threats to human well-being.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 132 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 108 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Spain 1 <1%
Austria 1 <1%
Unknown 106 98%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 36 33%
Student > Master 16 15%
Researcher 14 13%
Student > Doctoral Student 13 12%
Student > Bachelor 12 11%
Other 17 16%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Psychology 42 39%
Social Sciences 33 31%
Unspecified 11 10%
Arts and Humanities 5 5%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 5 5%
Other 12 11%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 570. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 18 September 2019.
All research outputs
#12,905
of 13,643,882 outputs
Outputs from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
#439
of 80,794 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#778
of 374,345 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
#17
of 888 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 13,643,882 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 80,794 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 24.4. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 374,345 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 888 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 98% of its contemporaries.