Winners Take All

Winners Take All

The Elite Charade of Changing the World

Anand Giridharadas

As Deborah Small and George Loewenstein, scholars at Carnegie Mellon University, write in a major paper: People react differently toward identifiable victims than to statistical victims who have not yet been identified. Specific victims of misfortune often draw extraordinary attention and resources. But, it is often difficult to draw attention to, or raise money for, interventions that would prevent people from becoming victims in the first place. Small and Loewenstein’s research confirms what many budding thought leaders intuit by reading the faces in the crowd: that people feel and care more when you help people to see a problem in terms of individuals. In Cuddy’s case, she experienced this whenever she spoke about young girls, rather than adult women, shrinking physically. A light would go off in the heads of men with daughters. “A sixty-year-old man would come up to me and go, ‘Oh my God, thank you so much. This is so important for my daughter and for her kids.’ They were open to it. Suddenly, the audience that I could never capture when I talk about, ‘You need to change as a leader; you need to say that this is not okay; you need to do this and that’—those people who completely turned off to me were suddenly open when I was talking about their daughters and the opportunities their daughters would have.”

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