Working paper

Training Effective Altruism

Sultan Mehmood, Shaheen Naseer, and Daniel L. Chen


Randomizing different schools of thought –via a month-long training– finds that training deputy ministers in effective altruism renders 0.4-0.6 standard deviations increase in altruism. Treated ministers increased mentalizing of others: blood donations doubled, but only when blood banks requested their exact blood type. Perspective-taking in strategic dilemmas improved. Orphanage visits and volunteering in impoverished schools also increased. We then trace the impact of the training on their policymaking: one year after training, amid official duties, ministers were 50-100% more likely to choose social policies and recommend over 4-fold additional funding for them. Overall, our results underscore that effective altruism may be a parsimonious foundation for formation of prosociality, even impacting the behavior of adults in the field and their high-stakes policymaking

JEL codes

  • J01: Labor Economics: General
  • J24: Human Capital • Skills • Occupational Choice • Labor Productivity
  • D64: Altruism • Philanthropy
  • D73: Bureaucracy • Administrative Processes in Public Organizations • Corruption
  • M50: General


Sultan Mehmood, Shaheen Naseer, and Daniel L. Chen, Training Effective Altruism, TSE Working Paper, n. 22-1390, December 2022.

See also

Published in

TSE Working Paper, n. 22-1390, December 2022