Comment author: SiebeRozendal 07 June 2018 10:10:53AM 0 points [-]

I really admire that you did a study about this, but I think that this study shows much less than you claim to. First of all, you studied support for effective giving (EG), which is different from effective altruism as a whole. I would suspect at least the following three factors to really be different between EG and EA:

  • Support for cause impartiality, both moral impartiality (measuring each being according to their innate characteristics like sentience or intelligence, rather than personal closeness) and means impartiality (being indifferent between different means to an end, e.g. donating money or choosing a career with direct impact
  • Dedication. I believe that making career changes or pledging at least 10% of your income to donate is quite a high bar and much fewer people would be inclined to that.
  • Involvement in the community. As you wrote the community is quite idiosyncratic. Openness to (some of) its ideas does not imply people will like the movement.

Of course, not all of this implies that the study is worthless, that getting people to donate their 1 or 2% more effectively is useless, or that we shouldn't try to make the movement more diverse and welcoming (if this can be done without compromising core values such as epistemic rigor). I think there is a debate to be held how to differentiate effective giving from EA as a whole, so that we can decide whether or not to promote effective giving seperately and if so, how.

Comment author: NickFitz 07 June 2018 11:42:15AM *  1 point [-]

Hi Siebe - it's definitely worth distinguishing effective giving, career choice, x-risk, etc. There's likely a whole host of factors that differ between them. To your point (and Peter's question above), it's worth sorting out how we handle this differentiation.

Comment author: cafelow  (EA Profile) 06 June 2018 11:38:58PM 5 points [-]

Thanks Ari for your post. This is very interesting and an important research question. I also believe that EA ideas can be appealing to people far beyond the current demographic of EAs (which I think is strongly influenced by founders effects).

Are you able to share the details of your SEGS scale? I think the details of the scale would be interesting. I can see that you have a high correlation between Empathy and SEGS. In particular I am wondering what the chances that generally altruistic people are choosing the high SEGS answers because they look like the most empathetic answers, even if the person isn't particularly effective in general with their altruism - you may have found a way to feather this out.

And also I can't seem to click the links to the EQ and CRT scales etc in your pdf - that might just be me, but a list of links would be great!

Comment author: NickFitz 07 June 2018 11:39:06AM *  4 points [-]

Thanks for this. The SEGS consisted of seven items on a 7-point Likert agree/disagree scale: (1) I am interested in Effective Altruism, (2) I would like to learn more about Effective Altruism, (3) I support the Effective Altruism movement, (4), I would share information about Effective Altruism with people in my network, (5) I identify as an "effective altruist," (6) I would like to meet others who support Effective Altruism, and (7) I will donate my money based on Effective Altruism. We also measured a few more-behavioral outcomes e.g., a windfall donation task (in which participants allocated money between Deworm the World, Make a Wish, a local choir, and keeping it for themselves), and willingness to sign the GWWC pledge. For the SEGS x Empathy relationship, we controlled for past giving behavior to try to feather that out.

Ah yes, the links to the scales don't appear to work in the PDF, here are open-access versions:







Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 06 June 2018 11:41:17PM 11 points [-]

I’m really curious which description of EA you used in your study, could you post that here? What kind of attitudes towards EA did you ask about?

+1. There's a big gap, I'd guess, between "your dollar goes further overseas" and "we must reduce risk from runaway AI".

while many more people than now might agree with EA ideas, fewer of them will find the lived practice and community to be a good fit. I think that’s a pretty unfortunate historical lock in

Serious question: Could we start a new one?

Comment author: NickFitz 07 June 2018 11:14:36AM *  6 points [-]

Thanks both, great point. We focused the description in this study on the effective giving and career choice aspects of EA, and the results may well be different depending on the framing -- it'd be worth replicating with something like x-risk. Here's the full description (built from

"What is Effective Altruism? Thinking carefully about how to do good. Effective altruism is about answering one simple question: how can we use our resources to help others the most? Rather than just doing what feels right, we use evidence and careful analysis to find the very best causes to work on.

Most of us want to make a difference. We see suffering, injustice and death, and are moved to do something about them. But working out what that ‘something’ is, let alone doing it, is a difficult problem. Which cause should you support if you really want to make a difference? What career choices will help you make a significant contribution? Which charities will use your donation effectively? If you don’t choose well, you risk wasting your time and money. But if you choose wisely, you have a tremendous chance to improve the world.

Effective altruism considers tradeoffs like the following: Suppose we want to fight blindness. For $40,000 we can provide guide dogs to blind people in the US. Or for $20 per patient, we can pay for surgery reversing the effects of trachoma in Africa (a disease which causes blindness). If people have equal moral value, then the second option is more than 2,000 times better than the first."

Comment author: NickFitz 06 June 2018 12:46:08AM *  4 points [-]

Greg, this is fantastic and congratulations on all everything involved in making this a reality. I'm sure many of us will head over for a visit to collaborate and build community (I especially appreciate the handy google calendar!).