The Conversation: Chilean Miners and Your Mind

Why the story of the Chilean miners has drawn global attention.

Oct. 13, 2010 — -- As the Chilean miners were pulled to the surface one by one today, the world was riveted to the live video coverage from the remote mountainside.

About 1,400 journalists from at least 39 countries weree there to cover the rescue as each man emerged from the capsule into the arms of waiting loved ones. U.S. cable news channels and news websites have given the story near wall-to-wall coverage and, overseas, the BBC aired the live feed of the entire event.

What is it about this story that has captured global attention in such a compelling way?

ABC News' Linsey Davis spoke to social science professor Mario Diani, who lives and works in Italy.

"I think we have a strong need to identify collectively with good causes," Diani said. "We're now living in an age which is increasingly individualized."

With a public increasingly cynical about politicians, celebrities and other cultural figures, Diani said, there's an appealing honesty about 33 men for whom everyone can root.

"They're clear targets of sympathy and you can invest emotionally in them with a very, very high chance that you won't be disappointed," he added.

We hope you'll watch today's Conversation for more on the science behind the appeal of this dramatic rescue story.

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