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Empathy–Altruism Hypothesis

Definition

The empathy–altruism hypothesis states that feelings of empathy for another person produce an altruistic motivation to increase that person's welfare. In the empathy–altruism hypothesis, the term empathy refers to feelings of compassion, sympathy, tenderness, and the like. Altruism refers to a motivational state in which the goal is to increase another person's welfare as an end in itself. (Altruistic acts are what are ordinarily called “good deeds.”) Note that this definition of altruism is different from the typical usage of the term, which is usually defined to mean an act of helping that involves considerable personal costs to the helper. Overall, the empathy–altruism hypothesis has generated a large body of research that answers important questions about why people help and fail to help, and offers ...

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