The Causes of Altruism Essay

Good Essays
How do humans actually behave when faced with the decision to help others? The innate desire that compels humans to help is called altruism by psychologists. Through this feeling, humans transform from a selfish jerk to a more compassionate and caring person. Some psychologists believe that this feeling stems from nature itself. Despite the fact that some altruistic acts originate from the pressures of society, altruism predominantly comes from the survival of the fittest, the feeling of empathy, and the selfish desire to benefit your own kin.

Before a case can be made for the causes of altruism, altruism itself must first be defined. Most leading psychologists agree that the definition of altruism is “a motivational state with
…show more content…
Because death is the ultimate sacrifice, as it is the “most complete and permanent change”, no action that directly leads to death can possess selfish influences (White, 233). We want not only for ourselves to succeed, but for the entire species to exist peacefully.

Altruistic acts are often seen through the benevolent acts of family members express towards each other on a regular basis. Because of the significant amount of genes we share with our kin, the survival of a family is prioritized equally to the survival of the individual. Each member of the family will therefore behave altruistically towards each other, due to the evolutionary drive for survival. The reason that parents behave this altruistically towards their offspring is because “parents (adults) are in a maximally favorable position to dispense inexpensive aid to offspring (eggs) that maximally resembles the parents genetically” (Alexander, 462). Even through altruism is perhaps highest between family members, people also feel more empathetic towards others who possess similar traits, as a large number of genes are share. As altruism “involves a loss of individual fitness, [it] can evolve only by group selection” (Nunney, 228). Therefore, we can see that nature’s force of the survival of the group is a primary driving factor for the appearance of altruism.

Lastly, another definitive explanation for natural
Get Access