Altruism is social behaviour and value orientation in
which individuals give primary consideration to the interests and welfare of other
individuals, members of groups or the community as a whole. In altruistic regard for
others is the principle of action.
The term 'altruism' was used by Emile Durkheim
(1858-1917) to describe a Suicide
as Altruistic Suicide, committed for the benefit of
others or for the community: this would include self-sacrifice for military objectives in
Sociobiologists argue that altruistic behaviour has its
roots in self-interest, the unconscious desire to protect one's genetic heritage.
Critics of sociobiology respond that altruism is evident
between individuals and in social situations where people are completely unrelated
genetically and claim that human conduct and motivations cannot be explained without
reference to the values and norms of culture.
Altruistic punishment and the origin of
cooperation - How did human cooperation evolve? Recent evidence shows that many
people are willing to engage in altruistic punishment, voluntarily paying a cost to punish
noncooperators. Although this behavior helps to explain how cooperation can persist, it
creates an important puzzle.
If altruistic punishment provides benefits to
nonpunishers and is costly to punishers, then how could it evolve? Drawing on recent
insights from voluntary public goods games, I present a simple evolutionary model in which
altruistic punishers can enter and will always come to dominate a population of
contributors, defectors, and nonparticipants. The model suggests that the cycle of
strategies in voluntary public goods games does not persist in the presence of punishment
strategies. It also suggests that punishment can only enforce payoff-improving strategies,
contrary to a widely cited "folk theorem" result that suggests that punishment
can allow the evolution of any strategy. - James H. Fowler, Univ of
California. Edited by Henry C. Harpending, University of Utah.
Religious Altruism and Organ Donation
David J. Dixon, M.D., M.A., F.R.C.P.C, and Susan E. Abbey, M.D., F.R.C.P.C.
From the Department of Psychiatry, Toronto General Hospital & University of Toronto.
Address reprint requests to Dr. Dixon, Department of Psychiatry, 8 EN-212, Toronto General
Hospital, University Health Network, 200 Elizabeth Street, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C4.
Clinicians performing psychiatric assessments of potential organ donors must consider the
motivations behind an act that isstrictly in terms of its physiological
implicationsentirely altruistic. The authors present two case reports in which
proposed kidney donors conceptualized their offers exclusively in terms of their religious
beliefs and not in terms of kinship or emotional intimacy with the intended recipients.
The negative reactions of some clinicians to the offers reveal the readiness with which
religious beliefs can be pathologized and the way in which biological relationships can
unduly restrict the clinical understanding of healthy altruism. -
Self Interest, Altruism, Incentives, and Agency Theory
MICHAEL C. JENSEN, Harvard Business School; The Monitor Company; Social Science Electronic
Publishing (SSEP), Inc.
Abstract: Many people are suspicious of self-interest and incentives and oppose motivating
humans through incentives. I analyze the meaning of incentives in the logic of choice and
argue that it is inconceivable that purposeful actions are anything other than responses
to incentives. Money is not always the best way to motivate people. But where money
incentives are required, they are required precisely because people are motivated by
things other than money.
Self-interest is consistent with altruistic motives. Agency problems, however, cannot be
solved by instilling greater altruism in people because altruism, the concern for the
well-being of others, does not make a person into a perfect agent who does the bidding of
I discuss the universal tendency of people to behave in non-rational ways. Though they are
Resourceful, Evaluative Maximizers (REMMs) humans are imperfect because their brains are
biologically structured so as to blind them from perceiving and correcting errors that
cause psychic pain. The result is systematic, non-functional behavior.
I discuss a Pain Avoidance Model (PAM) that complements REMM by capturing the non-rational
component of human behavior (the crux of human self-control problems). Recognizing these
self- control problems leads to an expansion of agency theory since they are a second
source of agency costs in addition to those generated by conflicts of interest between
people. - papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=5566
Theory of Mind and Altruism
Lesley Black, Psychology Undergrad
Abstract: Taking anothers point of view, and the tendency to help others out, are
examined in this correlational study of five year-olds. Theory of mind and Altruism are
both centered on an individual thinking about others thoughts and thus should be
highly correlated. The battery consists of second-order theory of mind measures, altruism
inventories, and inhibitory control tasks. Verbal mental ability, age and the inhibitory
control measures will be used as control variables. A Guttmann scale was found for
difficulty in comprehension of the second order theory of mind tests. The two inhibitory
control variables were found to be highly correlated. Additionally the positive and
negative emotion picture tests were also highly correlated. Inhibitory control was found
to be correlated with second order theory of mind. Verbal mental age was also found to be
correlated with second order theory of mind. Altruism and second order theory of mind were
correlated, which provides support for our hypothesis. - users.muohio.edu