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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

“One dead person can save the lives of several others”: The impact of the number and identification of recipients on organ-donation decisions

Published: May 27, 2020


Tehila Kogut, Ben-Gurion University; Inbal Harel, Ben-Gurion University


Organ donation; Identifiable victim effect; Scope neglect


We examined the combined effect of information about the number of recipients saved by the organs of one deceased person (one vs. four) and the identifiability of the donor and the recipient(s) in OD descriptions, on people’s willingness to donate (WTD) the organs of a deceased relative. Results suggest that reading about more people who were saved by the organs of a deceased donor does not increase WTD. Reading about a case of OD involving an identified deceased donor, deceased WTD (which was attenuated by the number of recipients). Importantly, the presentation that prompted the greatest WTD was the one that featured an unidentified donor and only one identified recipient. Finally, an explorative investigation into participants’ subconscious thoughts of death following the OD story revealed that identifying a deceased donor prompts more thoughts of death in the perceiver, regardless of the number of recipients, possibly decreasing WTD.


US National Science Foundation Grant 1559546