Scope Neglect

Once upon a time, three groups of subjects were asked how much they would pay to save 2,000 / 20,000 / 200,000 migrating birds from drowning in uncovered oil ponds. The groups respectively answered $80, $78, and $88.1

Potential explanations

The usual finding is that exponential increases in scope create linear increases in willingness-to-pay—perhaps corresponding to the linear time for our eyes to glaze over the zeroes; this small amount of affect is added, not multiplied, with the prototype affect. An alternative hypothesis is “purchase of moral satisfaction.” People spend enough money to create a warm glow in themselves, a sense of having done their duty. The level of spending needed to purchase a warm glow depends on personality and financial situation, but it certainly has nothing to do with the number of birds.

(or extension neglect) We can concretely imagine only up till maybe five. Than it's start quickly fading. We cannot really imagine numbers larger than 15. The larger the number the larger scope neglect will be. It extend also on so called extension neglect. We cannot comprehend big chunks of time, of amount of people, of how much some specific thing relates to the larger whole etc.

Example: in a document Shoa, a Nazi director of a concentration camp, when asked how many people were in killed in his camp, answered: "40,000 or 400,000"

Orbeez example from Mr. Beast

50,000 Orbeez (1 pack)


400,000 Orbeez


100 mln Orbeez


“It’s the struggle, as Ord puts it, to care ten times as much about something that’s ten times more important than an alternative.” How Close Is Humanity to the Edge? via Instapaper