Much of the debate about how to build the effective altruism (EA) movement is focused on how to frame issues to convince people of the merits of the general EA worldview. Should we talk of giving as an opportunity or an obligation? Should we emphasize global health and poverty over artificial intelligence and animal ethics? Such discussions are vital, but crafting our message can only get us so far.

Many potentially highly-engaged effective altruists (EAs) haven’t even heard of EA yet. If we knew who these folks were, we could grow the movement far more quickly and sustainably. It’s far more effective to prioritize identifying people who are already highly predisposed towards the tenets of effective altruism than it is to struggle with those who are a much harder “sell.”

In a recent study, we’ve explored these questions to identify who may already be receptive to EA. We ran an online study with 530 Americans to determine what predicts support for EA. After participants read a general description of EA, they completed measures of their support for EA (e.g., attitudes and giving behaviors). Finally, participants answered a collection of questions measuring their beliefs, values, behaviors, demographic traits, and more.

The results suggest that the EA movement may be missing a much wider population of highly-engaged supporters. We set out to increase the return on investment of movement-building work; in doing so, we discovered an underexplored, much more diverse group interested in EA, and found that the EA personality may be somewhat misunderstood.

Read the full article about growing the EA movement by Nick Fitz and Ari Kagan at Effective Altruism Forum.