WE WANT OUR ORGAN DONORS TO BE LIKE US
Photo via Flickr / CCBy Andrew Overton
There are always more people looking to receive organs than there are people looking to donate them, hence the international black market. Despite the scarcity, however, people still show signs of choosiness when considering just whose organs they’d want to let inside.
A recent study published in the journal Cognitive Science, from which the above definition comes, examined essentialist thinking in the context of participants’ attitudes when it came to accepting organ donations and blood transfusions from hypothetical donors with various personal characteristics.
Here's how it worked. Researchers at the University of Michigan presented potential organ recipients with a list of possible donors of various ages, genders, sexual orientations, and backgrounds. The list also contained people with mixtures of either "good" or "bad" qualities that were unrelated to the recipient. For example, some were said to be highly intelligent, gifted in the arts, or prone to philanthropy; others possible donors were said to be stupid, homeless, thieves, or murderers.
The donor’s possession of good qualities or bad qualities was a significant predictor of participants’ willingness to receive organs from them, with the repelling effect of the donors’ bad qualities holding more sway than the trust-building effect of the donors’ good qualities. Participants articulated fears that transplants from undesirable donors would contaminate them, and that they would somehow inherit the bad qualities to the detriment of their personalities and behavior. According to NPR, o
ne patient ruminated that "the cruel murderer's qualities will come to me."