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Altruism

Definition

Altruism refers to a motive for helping behavior that is primarily intended to relieve another person's distress, with little or no regard for the helper's self-interest. Altruistic help is voluntary, deliberate, and motivated by concern for another person's welfare. When help is given for altruistic reasons, the helper does not expect repayment, reciprocity, gratitude, recognition, or any other benefits.

Background and History

Questions about the nature and importance of altruism have a long history in moral philosophy. For example, the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, who ministered to a traveler's wounds at personal cost while expecting nothing in return, has become synonymous with the idea of selfless giving. Among social psychologists, interest in altruism grew in response to early studies of helping behavior. Those studies tended ...

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