What is Altruism in Social Psychology

What is Altruism in Social Psychology?


In the intricate realm of social psychology, altruism stands as a virtue that transcends the boundaries of self-interest and egoism. This article delves into the essence of altruism, exploring its significance, underlying theories, psychological factors, real-world manifestations, and its relevance in modern society. Let’s embark on a journey to understand the profound concept of altruism.

Theories of Altruism

Altruism is rooted in several theories that attempt to explain why people engage in selfless acts. Reciprocity, kin selection, and the social exchange theory provide different angles on the motivation behind altruistic behavior. Reciprocity emphasizes the notion of “paying it forward,” while kin selection centers around aiding those with shared genetic ties. The social exchange theory, on the other hand, emphasizes the cost-benefit analysis of helping others.

Psychological Factors

Empathy, an essential component of altruism, allows individuals to understand and share the feelings of others. Prosocial behavior, driven by empathy, encourages individuals to act for the benefit of others. From an evolutionary perspective, altruism may be linked to our survival as a species, where cooperation and mutual support are advantageous traits.

Altruism in Practice

Real-life examples of altruism can be found in everyday acts of kindness, volunteerism, and philanthropy. The article explores the benefits of altruistic behavior on both the giver and the recipient, as well as addressing critiques and controversies surrounding the concept.

Altruism vs. Egoism

Distinguishing altruism from egoism is vital. While altruism centers on selflessness and the welfare of others, egoism focuses on self-interest. Striking a balance between these two tendencies is a challenge faced by many.

The Dark Side of Altruism

Altruism can sometimes take on a darker shade, as individuals may develop a martyr complex, sacrificing their well-being excessively. Recognizing and overcoming such pitfalls is essential for maintaining a healthy sense of altruism.

Altruism in Modern Society

In today’s world, altruism takes on various forms, from volunteering in local communities to performing acts of kindness for strangers. The article also explores the rise of online altruism, where social


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