Review: What works to promote charitable donations? 2020-08-24T01:42:05.967Z
Opportunity to support a Covid19 related survey collaboration 2020-03-28T01:02:15.612Z
Requesting support for the StandAgainstCorona pledge 2020-03-17T00:47:40.298Z


Comment by Peterslattery on Early Alpha Version of the Probably Good Website · 2021-03-02T03:44:57.187Z · EA · GW

Nice work! I really like it as a start. 

Some quick thoughts. The findings, rating criteria and method used here might be useful to consider. I don't strongly endorse it because academic findings and process don't always  apply/work in the real world. Also it is long out of date at this point.

On a personal level, I wonder if you need an elegant way to explain the relationship with 80k and avoid confusion? 

Also, depending on the audience and your aims, it might be good to get some testimonials and indicators of credibility and social proof etc on the  landing page. Also maybe it is worth adding more images and engaging graphics within the long blocks of text or some interactive elements that people will catch attention and prompt sharing?

Comment by Peterslattery on Brainstorm: What questions will the general public find most interesting about charities and causes? · 2021-03-02T02:23:34.830Z · EA · GW

[Not a suggestion for a post] Have you also looked at the number of searchers each of these questions gets + number of media write up etc? Might be useful to do to see what is likely to get engagement.

Comment by Peterslattery on Brainstorm: What questions will the general public find most interesting about charities and causes? · 2021-03-02T02:22:55.457Z · EA · GW

Something on whether charity perpetuates systemic inequality or fails to change the broken system? There might be a range of leftist/social justice critiques worth addressing. 

Comment by Peterslattery on Ecosystems vs Projects in EA Movement Building · 2021-02-23T21:45:54.813Z · EA · GW

Thanks David -  this is all very useful!

Comment by Peterslattery on [Expired] 20,000 Free $50 Charity Gift Cards · 2020-12-11T23:21:56.145Z · EA · GW

Just FYI, I can't find 80k or FHI etc.

Comment by Peterslattery on What quotes do you find most inspire you to use your resources (effectively) to help others? · 2020-11-19T00:01:39.045Z · EA · GW

Here are some 'EA' related quotes I have collected - not sure if any are useful for your particular case, but figured it was best to share them anyway!


There is no greater satisfaction for a just and well-meaning person than the knowledge that he has devoted his best energies to the service of the good cause.

— Albert Einstein...


He is the most beloved of God who does most good to God’s creatures.

— Muhammad (c. 570-632 A.D.)...


There are no catastrophes that loom before us which cannot be avoided; there is nothing that threatens us with imminent destruction in such a fashion that we are helpless to do something about it. If we behave rationally and humanely; if we concentrate coolly on the problems that face all of humanity, rather than emotionally on such nineteenth century matters as national security and local pride; if we recognize that it is not one’s neighbors who are the enemy, but misery, ignorance, and the cold indifference of natural law—then we can solve all the problems that face us. We can deliberately choose to have no catastrophes at all.

—Isaac Asimov...

The Precipice

Toby Ord


Cicero wrote: "The best Armour of Old Age is a well spent life preceding it; a Life employed in the Pursuit of useful Knowledge, in honourable Actions and the Practice of Virtue; in which he who labours to improve himself from his Youth, will in Age reap the happiest Fruits of them."

Comment by Peterslattery on Differences in the Intensity of Valenced Experience across Species · 2020-11-05T01:04:35.052Z · EA · GW

Thanks Jason, that's really useful context! I have some related interested in building better networks and processes for crafting mutually beneficial arrangements between people paid to publish (i.e., academics) and those who are paid only to do the research but will gain from getting it published (i.e., practice based researchers).  It is pretty much a scaled up version of what you did with Bob. I am exploring a few options now and I hope to have more to report in the future.

Comment by Peterslattery on Forecasting Newsletter: October 2020. · 2020-11-02T22:56:44.071Z · EA · GW

Thanks for these! I really enjoy them.

Comment by Peterslattery on Differences in the Intensity of Valenced Experience across Species · 2020-11-02T22:42:10.338Z · EA · GW

Thank you for this extremely detailed and interesting work! Are you planning to publish some or all of these write ups in academic journals? I think that this sort of work could potentially have a somewhat increased impact on relevant future decisions and behaviours (e.g., what to fund/research/implement as policy) if credibly packaged within a peer reviewed academic publication. It might also add more credibility to RP outside of EA contexts. 

Comment by Peterslattery on Prioritization in Science - current view · 2020-10-31T22:55:41.490Z · EA · GW

Thanks for writing this up Edo! We are are definitely thinking along similar lines and should talk more about this some time!  

In short, I think that EA should start to actively seek to influence academic research and funding norms as a means to ensuring that this industry produces more socially relevant research and rhetoric that will influence key decision makers. 

I think that EA can do this by creating lots of academic evidence (e.g.,  credible 'published' research) and some of which will just involve amplifying existing work (e.g., converting high quality EA research into academic paper format). 

This will require collaboration and co-design on mutually beneficial projects between academics (who can and want to publish research but often lack good  data collection opportunities) and practitioners (who often have good data and benefit from publishing, but lack the ability or incentives to justify that effort).  Happy to unpack that a bit more in the future when I have more time!

Comment by Peterslattery on A new strategy for broadening the appeal of effective giving ( · 2020-10-31T01:29:06.854Z · EA · GW

Amazing work! Donation bundling is a really great application of temptation bundling and I can see how it could really accelerate the adoption of effective giving. I am also really excited to see you translating your research into practice. Some quick thoughts:

  • It would be interesting to have an post test survey to track who gives and why, for example to see the extent to which different demographic factors (e.g., age and gender) and psychographic factors (e.g., attitude toward effective giving/belief in existential risk/self rated knowledge of effectiveness) correlate with different donation choices. Also: How do people feel that exposure to this service has changed them/their views (e.g., do they think they are more likely to give effectively and recommend it?
  • It would be interested to track changes over time and compare if those exposed to donation bundling differ much from a cohort who haven't been in terms of their future attitudes and behaviour. Then we could see if engaging in EG via donation bundling leads to changes in attitudes and behaviour that sustain (potentially even when the EG donation bundling option is removed) 
  • It will be important to maximise your traffic so have you thought about doing some sort of series of media releases (ideally with partner organisation) to make sure people know about the service?
    • I would also think about partnerships options for co-promotion: Intermediary services like workplace giving services, large and well networked (maybe semi-EA aligned) charities, Effective charities and EA recommendation  services like TLYCS and Givewell. 
  • Have you considered running experiments on the website using simple A/B tests? This seems like a great opportunity if you are getting the traffic.
    • You could  test the effect of different numbers of options . I know, for example, that several EA organisation, like EAA, have wondered what the optimum number of options to show and there  choice overload is often an issue in retail settings.
    • Testing other types of appeals/strategies could be interesting. For instance, normative appeals (e,g, X% choose this option), defaults (changing the initial value), chained/escalating approaches, like seeking a small commitment post donation (e.g., to read something about charitable donation or reflect on their donation approach) then seeing if that commitment/action shifts their identify/values and leads to greater donations relative to those who didn't make the commitment).
    • Testing presentation difference - images v logos, stats v images v arguments, different types of narrative (e.g., opportunity v obligation arguments) 
    • You state that "in some preliminary studies I found no significant differences in amounts given to effective charities depending on whether they focused on global poverty, animal welfare or existential risk" - this could be a chance to test this by pooling different charity types and assessing differences. Personally,  I would be surprised if there aren't some significant differences between demographic or psychographic groups, even if there are no differences on aggregate.

(and then I wrote a short essay - sorry - no need to respond to any/all of that but I hope some of it is useful!) 

Comment by Peterslattery on We're Lincoln Quirk & Ben Kuhn from Wave, AMA! · 2020-10-30T03:49:52.079Z · EA · GW

Hey Lincoln and Ben, thanks so much for taking the time to share your knowledge. I am on my phone so this is going to be a short question/post.

Based on your interest in remote work I wanted to ask if you have any suggestions for optimising the performance of organisations and teams who are all remote/hybrid workers?

Two reasons: 1- This will probably be more common post covid19. 2- It is already common in EA related collaborations and organisations.

Judging from some of the comments below there may be blog posts from Ben that I missed. If so, I'd be happy with a quick response and links to anything deeper! Thanks!

Comment by Peterslattery on Introducing LEEP: Lead Exposure Elimination Project · 2020-10-14T22:16:23.146Z · EA · GW

Great work Jack! Really excited to see this!

Comment by Peterslattery on Local priorities research: what is it, who should consider doing it, and why · 2020-09-07T05:36:20.469Z · EA · GW

Thank you for writing this up. I strongly agree with this basic idea/approach (though that was based on a quick scan so I may not agree on all the details). As an organiser, I experienced a lot of people asking me about local jobs they might do and I didn't have easy answers.

Longer term I would like if there was something like the 80K jobs board (perhaps posted by 80k), but with a filter to focus in on specific regional areas. Perhaps this could be something where the local EA leads would provide the data and 80k would still do the broadcast (best to keep everything centralised, I think).

I like the google sheet you developed.

It might be good to see if you can get a few other group leads to do something similar to your sheet and collectively track the community response.

Anyway, that's all I have time to contribute for now. Keep up the great work!

Comment by Peterslattery on Review: What works to promote charitable donations? · 2020-09-02T03:14:31.431Z · EA · GW

Based on the feedback, I think that a few people didn't realise that we have drafted a (50 page) preprint paper - the link above is just to the public summary. Sorry for not making that clearer!

Comment by Peterslattery on Review: What works to promote charitable donations? · 2020-08-26T21:12:41.726Z · EA · GW

Hey Michael! The literature on "Framing even small contributions as helpful for achieving charitable aims" (referred to as 'Legitimizing Paltry contributions'/'LPC' in the literature ) suggests that the technique leads to similar contributions overall.

Here is what the relevant review states:

"To conduct this analysis, we calculated total donation amounts for both experimental and control
groups from 10 research reports representing 18 comparisons (U.S. samples only) and
a total of 2,054 participants. Care was taken to ensure donation totals were adjusted to
reflect an equal number of participants in the LPC and control conditions for each
study. Because our observations of these data were at the study level (e.g., total amount
contributed in the LPC and control conditions), it was not possible to use traditional
meta-analytic techniques to test for differences. Instead, we examined differences
using a paired t test with the experimental and control condition donation totals from
a given study each representing one data point. The difference between the donation
totals for experimental (M = 49.07, SD = 49.68) and control conditions (M = 46.04,
SD = 57.01) was not statistically significant, t(17) = .41, p = .69 (two-tailed)."

Here is their summary of related prior research:

"The results from studies that have examined the effects of LPC on donation size are
mixed. Whereas the findings from some research reports show that legitimizing paltry
contributions decreases donation amounts (e.g., Reeves et al., 1987; Shearman & Yoo,
2007), others show that the tactic does not affect charitable contributions (e.g., Cialdini
& Schroeder, 1976; Weyant, 1984; Weyant & Smith, 1987) or even increases them
(e.g., Dolinska & Dolinski, 2014; Dolinski et al., 2005)."

Let me know if you want a copy of the paper.

Comment by Peterslattery on A central directory for open research questions · 2020-04-24T23:08:23.416Z · EA · GW

Thanks so much for this! I am keen to discuss this when Covid-19 has passed. I have some ideas and see opportunities for collaboration. EdoArad - I would love to talk with you too at that time. For context, I am one of the people involved in READI which is led by EA volunteers and seeking to tackle high impact/EA aligned research questions. This is our current project, you can see other work here.

Comment by Peterslattery on Opportunity to support a Covid19 related survey collaboration · 2020-04-08T02:03:07.030Z · EA · GW

Big updates

  • We finished collecting the first wave of data.
  • We just had our first media coverage. Please have a read!
  • We now have over 100 people involved in the collaboration!

What we are spending most of our time on

  • Seeking funding for the next waves of data collection and further work (we are still basically doing as volunteer work in addition to our paid work time)
    • Both for AU data and overseas data, hopefully
  • Follow up interviews, discussions and media related work.
  • Finishing reports to share with local and AU policy makers. We have a few tiny fixes to do tomorrow then they should be good to go.
  • Exploring how to collaborate with the two other major ongoing surveys (see here for a comparison across projects). We had one meeting with the Australian lead of iCare and are arranging a second.
  • Collecting ideas for changes to make for wave 2 of data collection.

If you are interested in helping then please join here.

Comment by Peterslattery on Coronavirus Research Ideas for EAs · 2020-03-31T04:21:16.739Z · EA · GW
I think this is a good idea in the abstract, but I would be especially wary of starting "yet another aggregator" right now... I think we should use the LW links database which already has momentum.

Yes, I agree. To be clear though, one issue now (I suspect) is that you can't trust the LW links database to be updated with all the key papers on a topic, nor can you search it to find these paper or use it to easily cite those papers. A Mendeley database could do that and in less than a days work. It would only be of use for 'serious' research though so not sure if needed. I also don't have the capacity to do anything to make such a database nor does anyone who could I suspect!

For now, perhaps the LW links database could benefit from someone with research knowledge setting up something to alert them to the latest research as it comes in? I could probably set something something that emails me the latest results from a search (e.g., (Covid-19 OR...) AND (vaccinat* OR ...)) and then forward that to someone involved. Of course this may already be happening - I haven't been able to pay much attention. If this is useful, then let me know and I will look into it.

Definitely. I think you have been in touch a bit with Derek and David on that. My understanding is it could definitely help but we are funding constrained on the data collection as are you. I shared your opportunity in my 29 March Brief.

Yes, they have been very helpful! Thanks for sharing. We will see if we can get more funding for this and if we do then we could potentially pay for that data collection.

Comment by Peterslattery on Coronavirus Research Ideas for EAs · 2020-03-28T00:36:16.863Z · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing, this is a pretty incredible list. The bar for good EA work just keeps on rising.

I have gratitude fatigue from all the people/efforts I am grateful for :)

For 3 - I think that shared Mendeley databases, are a good choice for synthesising and sharing research. New research is suggested, the web clipper makes it easy to add and the shared group mean that many people can contribute. It can also be combined with research updates from Scopus etc. I do one for Behaviourworks (my employer) for behaviour change research - see here for an update. I am happy to explain how to do it if 3+ people comment that they expect they would probably benefit it.

For 13/18 - Thanks for the mention of our project - maybe we can collaborate on getting UK data?

We just collected our first set of Australian data (n=1000) for an open science project. We aim to help policymakers with decision making about how to allocate resources to tackle Covid-19.

We doing something quite different from other ongoing surveys. Most of these are about country level comparisons and not about understanding behavioural drivers. For example, we can report things by location and demographic, but also why people are not doing the behaviours, e.g.,

  • 75% of males between 30 and 40 are social distancing but only 50% of males between 20-30.
  • At only 55% adherence, the inner west region reports the lowest amount of social distancing. The main capability barriers are commuting and desire to see friends.
  • 97% of those surveyed are always washing their hands, suggesting that this need no longer be a key communication target.
  • Maroubra shows the lowest levels of life satisfaction and the highest levels of anxiety
  • Compared to the previous week, emotional concern and risk perception have increased significantly, the population thinks more about Corona and searches for information more often.
  • Chronically ill people have a higher risk perception and need special support to protect themselves effectively.
  • The four biggest concerns are health system overload, small business filing for bankruptcy, recession and society becoming more selfish. Measures and information by the government can create security here; Reports of projects based on solidarity may encourage imitation and can reduce social fears.

The list of the 40 or so people currently involved is here.

If anyone would like to know more, take the survey, or help, then please read the following and check the links (copied and pasted to save time - hope that is ok - I am near exhaustion :P!):

Invitation letter

Dear X,

I am part of an open science research collaboration creating an international and continuously-updated dataset to help government and public health officials make better decisions to tackle Covid-19.

Existing COVID-19 related surveys are less optimised for providing immediate actionable insights to policy makers, such as the differences in adherence to key protective behaviours, and the barriers preventing people from performing these behaviours, and how these differ by postcode or demographic. Such data is therefore critical for efficient resource allocation but not currently available.

Building on the COSMO project, a WHO/Europe initiative - we will conduct a “living survey” -- with both repeated cross-sectional and longitudinal sampling -- running throughout the pandemic, to track relevant protective behaviours, their variations by demographic and location, and their determinants.

After each wave of data collection, we will generate and disseminate an updated report about the prevalence of protective behaviours, their most important drivers or barriers, and a break-down by demographics. As we collect more waves, we will be able to visualise trends over time.

We will also test the effectiveness of different interventions at encouraging relevant behaviours. Here are some examples of the types of outputs that we will be able to produce.

We have just started collecting the first wave of data.

Please consider joining us in collaboration. You can contribute by:

  • Helping to disseminate the survey via social networks or panel data.
  • Reaching and helping policy makers in your country with the data we collect
  • Helping to modify our report template to provide useful and interesting information to policy makers.
  • Developing reports and doing analysis for policy makers
  • Providing us with feedback based on your discussion data collection
  • Helping with write up and dissemination when we seek to publish this work

If you contribute to this project in any significant way then you will be recognised on all outputs and be an author on any subsequent paper. The bar for recognition will be relatively low (perhaps ~5 hours of work).

The data we collect and share will not only be invaluable to current policy and decision making but will also provide insights that help to prevent suffering and death.

You can take the survey here [Add your personal link]?Firstname_Lastname_EMAIL

You can join the collaboration here

Best wishes,


Comment by Peterslattery on Requesting support for the StandAgainstCorona pledge · 2020-03-19T00:40:37.108Z · EA · GW

The website is now public and live and over 500 people have already signed. Here are some good reasons to help promote it in my opinion (and why I took time off work to help with it):

Changes in behavior are critical for slowing and managing the spread of viruses and disease. Small behaviour changes such as promoting social distancing can have a huge impact on reducing the number of people who get infected. This graphic explains it very well.

Even small commitments (such as pledges) can significantly increase behaviour change.      

Seeing what other people do is one of the most powerful and important drivers of behaviour.    

By making it easier to broadcast behaviour and preferences, social media platforms enable us to reach and influence millions of people with a few shares and in turn enables those people to easily influence many others with just a click of a button.

As an example, within 24 hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet about #MeToo, 45% of facebook users had heard about it  - billions of people.

Imagine the effect of one person making important changes to their behaviour - already large - but now multiplied across millions of other people doing the same because they have seen others pledge and share. It could be hugely positive.

So please, think of all the people you love, and all the people others love, and take and share the pledge. We can't save everyone from suffering and dying from this terrible virus but we can hopefully save some of them. And even if we don't succeed we should surely try.

Comment by Peterslattery on Are there good EA projects for helping with COVID-19? · 2020-03-10T02:50:30.466Z · EA · GW

[Please disregard this comment for now - we are going to take more time to finalise the pledge before we seek support]

Helping to support and disseminate distribute a viral social contract (i.e., a pledge) to coordinate collective action against the Coronavirus might be one option to consider.

Please see this document for the project background and the current working draft for the pledge.

Please fill this form if you want to help us to distribute the pledge during and after launch (the 11th to 13th of March).

I really think that this is a case where leveraging EA networks can have a very positive social impact.

Taking and sharing the pledge will protect you, your family and your community but also the wider world and future generations. It will also help us to collect useful data about the best way to promote pledges and safety related behaviour.

Comment by Peterslattery on Announcing EA Hub 2.0 · 2019-04-09T09:32:58.059Z · EA · GW

New idea! It could be useful to ask members to fill out much of the information contained in the EA survey. And indicate which local groups they attend. Not mandatory of course. It might also be useful to ping local leads if a new person registers and indicates that they haven't attended a local group event.

Comment by Peterslattery on Announcing EA Hub 2.0 · 2019-04-09T09:29:39.446Z · EA · GW

I agree that we need some engagement loop/clear use case to keep this going. Could we host the annual survey on the hub? Or base some of the responses on the hub index? That could both lead more people to visit and register on the hub and also reduce the effort to fill the survey. It might also help us collect more accurate information in some aspects, for example with reference to membership numbers.

Comment by Peterslattery on Announcing EA Hub 2.0 · 2019-04-09T09:24:49.964Z · EA · GW

(on phone so don't judge my style :p) Nice work! Thanks for all of your time and effort.

Some quick thoughts. It might be good to post about the new hub in all of the groups you have listed. When doing that you could ask the members to add their details and check/update their group details.

Would be great to be able to bulk message all profiles in a given area (perhaps it should require contracting an admin to avoid spamming), for example in relation to upcoming local conferences or big events.

It could be good to ask new signups if they know any groups that are missing. Also when promoting the new. I see that there are a few missing in Australia, like Newcastle, Cairns Wollongong and Tasmania. If easy/sensible please bring back the map features for profiles. It would be really useful to be able to find the EAs in a postcode etc.

Thanks again :)

Comment by Peterslattery on Profiting-to-Give: harnessing EA talent with a new funding model · 2019-03-04T22:12:41.376Z · EA · GW

I strongly agree with a lot of this idea. Thanks for sharing!

Comment by Peterslattery on Positly wants to accelerate social science research and have a greater impact within the EA community… and you can help · 2018-07-06T03:47:20.421Z · EA · GW

This sounds very interesting. How does it compare to alternative recruitment platforms?

Comment by Peterslattery on EA database/reading list: Why it might be useful · 2016-07-27T01:22:37.640Z · EA · GW

I approve of this idea. In terms of how to do it: How about updating the EA wiki based on all of the sources? You could do it alone and with volunteers. Additionally, what about making the wiki more publicly known by using SEO and other techniques?

I also think we should have a stack exchange for EA so, if you agree, you could work on helping that to happen.

Comment by Peterslattery on Month-long EA movement building experiment: Effective Altruism: Grow · 2016-07-07T02:31:03.442Z · EA · GW

The link to EA Global does not work (In: if you nominate someone to attend EA Global and they complete their application)

Comment by Peterslattery on The Science of Effective Fundraising: Four Common Mistakes to Avoid · 2016-04-25T00:56:42.291Z · EA · GW

Hi Vipul,

Thank you for your comprehensive and well thought out comment. Sorry for my delay in response - I have been sick and busy.

The aim of this article, at least for me, was to provide some sort of a wiki-how for how to generally be effective at fundraising. I think it does a reasonable job in that regard and I am not sure if a discussion of tradeoffs would fit well with the format and aims.

With that said, I think that your insights are very valuable for us to consider. You have made several points that I realize I need to think more about (for example the differences in operational costs for different approaches, and the need to consider the amount that EAs give as an argument against their small numbers). Thanks for that. In particular I now recognise to a greate extent the potential tradeoff issues for arguments 2 & 4 as these points related to approaches that might work better for the general public but be less effective at persuading EAs. For 1 I think that there is no serious challenge, nor tradeoff, in combining statistics and emotional persuasion - most of the givewell charities do this to differing extents.

I will definitely consider writing a follow up article which discussed potential tradeoffs in more detail. Even if I don't directly build on the above article I will keep the comments in mind when writing/advising about similar topics.

Comment by Peterslattery on The Science of Effective Fundraising: Four Common Mistakes to Avoid · 2016-04-13T03:59:32.282Z · EA · GW

Thanks zdgroff :)

To my knowledge, all of these, bar matching, are good rules of thumb to work off for virtually all contexts where you are attempting to encourage prosocial (i.e., helping/other serving) behavior (i.e., volunteering, philanthropy, or activism on behalf of others) to the general public.

However, as Gleb points out, the most effective persuasion is very much about tailoring the appeal to the specific context, such as the people involved. For instance, if you were targeting people who were low in persuadability, high in persuasion knowledge, or need for cognition etc., then you might be better off going with something that focused on statistical/quantitative information rather than creating empathy by focusing on individual victims. That sort of target audience might see through this and be unaffected, or even dissuaded as they experience reactance at feeling manipulated.

Once I can free up some time, I intend to produce a lot more of persuasion guidelines, hopefully with Gleb and other collaborators (if I can keep/get them).