Altruism in Humans

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 2011 - Psychology - 329 pages
One of the Best Books of 2011 from the Center for Optimal Adult Development

We send money to help famine victims halfway around the world. We campaign to save whales and oceans. We stay up all night to comfort a friend with a broken relationship. People will at times risk -- even lose -- their lives for others, including strangers. Why do we do these things? What motivates such behavior?

Altruism in Humans takes a hard-science look at the possibility that we humans have the capacity to care for others for their sakes rather than simply for our own. Based on an extensive series of theory-testing laboratory experiments conducted over the past 35 years, this book details a theory of altruistic motivation, offers a comprehensive summary of the research designed to test the empathy-altruism hypothesis, and considers the theoretical and practical implications of this conclusion.

Authored by the world's preeminent scholar on altruism, this landmark work is an authoritative scholarly resource on the theory surrounding altruism and its potential contribution to better interpersonal relations and a better society.


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A Theory of Altruistic Motivation
Empirical Evidence
Altruism in Action
Summary and Conclusion
Crosscutting Independent Variables Dependent Variables and Competing Predictions that Can Test the EmpathyAltruism Hypothesis Against Each Eg...
Tests of the AversiveArousalReduction Hypothesis
Tests of the SocialEvaluation Version of the EmpathySpecificPunishment Hypothesis
Tests of the SelfEvaluation Version of the EmpathySpecificPunishment Hypothesis
Tests of the General EmpathySpecificReward Hypothesis
Tests of the EmpathicJoy Version of the EmpathySpecificReward Hypothesis
Tests of the NegativeStateRelief Version of the EmpathySpecificReward Hypothesis
Author Index
Subject Index

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About the author (2011)

Dan Batson is an experimental social psychologist. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from Princeton University in 1972 and then taught at the University of Kansas until his retirement in 2008. For over 30 years, his research has focused on the existence of altruistic motivation and on its antecedents and consequences. He has published well over a hundred research articles and chapters on these topics. This is his second book on altruism.

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