Altruism - True Altruism Does Not Exist Essay

Decent Essays
“True altruism does not exist”. Discuss with reference to psychological theory and research.
Many have defined altruism in a similar context, a special form of helping behaviour that is “an act that is motivated by the desire to benefit another individual rather than oneself” (Hogg &Vaughan, 2008). An altruistic act does not necessarily have a negative or zero value to the actor (Margolis, 1982) but a true altruistic act is detrimental to the actor's fitness and enhances another individual’s fitness, in other words, a selfless act (Batson, 1991). Throughout the evolution of altruism, there have been many controversies about the existence of true altruism. Most theories have argued that it stems from ulterior motives, but does that prove
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Another motive of altruism to gain indirect returns is the egoistic motives. It is suggested by Mandeville (1732), where a person who is in a situation that causes personal distress would behave altruistically to relieve that particular distress.

Although theories that suggest the non-existence of true altruism may be persuasive, it does not explain the reasons for selfless deeds done by famous figures for their love and services to people such as Mother Teresa. Batson (1991) suggested a hypothesis and feels that some people are genuinely concerned about other people’s welfare. According to his empathy-altruism hypothesis, empathic concerns produce altruism motivation and relieving their sufferings is the main priority. This hypothesis is supported by several experiments where participants are typically given an opportunity to help those in need for whom they have been led to different levels of empathic concerns.
Also, recent news has reported that chimpanzees (Choi, 2007) and toddlers (China Daily, 2006) have shown true altruistic behaviour.

In conclusion, the existence of altruism has yet to be proven but that does not mean it does not exist. More research has to be done in this field to explain about other cases to prove its existence.

Batson, C. D. (1991). The Altruism Question: Toward a Social-Psychological Answer. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
China Daily (2006). Experiment finds that
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