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    Altruism


    • Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures and a core aspect of various religious traditions and secular worldviews, though the concept of "others" toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism or selflessness is the opposite of selfishness. The word was coined by the French philosopher Auguste Comte in French, as altruisme, for an antonym of egoism. He derived it from the Italian altrui, which in turn was derived from Latin alteri, meaning "other people" or "somebody else".

      Altruism in biological organisms can be defined as an individual performing an action which is at a cost to themselves (e.g., pleasure and quality of life, time, probability of survival or reproduction), but benefits, either directly or indirectly, another third-party individual, without the expectation of reciprocity or compensation for that action. Steinberg suggests a definition for altruism in the clinical setting, that is "intentional and voluntary actions that aim to enhance the welfare of another person in the absence of any quid pro quo external rewards".

      Altruism can be distinguished from feelings of loyalty, in that whilst the latter is predicated upon social relationships, altruism does not consider relationships. Much debate exists as to whether "true" altruism is possible in human psychology. The theory of psychological egoism suggests that no act of sharing, helping or sacrificing can be described as truly altruistic, as the actor may receive an intrinsic reward in the form of personal gratification. The validity of this argument depends on whether intrinsic rewards qualify as "benefits". The actor also may not be expecting a reward.

      The term altruism may also refer to an ethical doctrine that claims that individuals are morally obliged to benefit others. Used in this sense, it is usually contrasted with egoism, which is defined as acting to the benefit of one's self.



      One consequence is that people are more cooperative if it is more likely that individuals will interact again in the future. People tend to be less cooperative if they perceive that the frequency of helpers in the population is lower. They tend to help less if they see non-cooperativeness by others and this effect tend to be stronger than the opposite effect of seeing cooperative behaviors. Simply changing the cooperative framing of a proposal may increase cooperativeness such as calling it a "Community Game" instead of a "Wall Street Game."
      One consequence is that people are more cooperative if it is more likely that individuals will interact again in the future. People tend to be less cooperative if they perceive that the frequency of helpers in the population is lower. They tend to help less if they see non-cooperativeness by others and this effect tend to be stronger than the opposite effect of seeing cooperative behaviors. Simply changing the cooperative framing of a proposal may increase cooperativeness such as calling it a "Community Game" instead of a "Wall Street Game."
      A tendency towards reciprocity implies that people will feel obligated to respond if someone helps them. This has been used by charities that give small gifts to potential donors hoping thereby to induce reciprocity. Another method is to announce publicly that someone has given a large donation. The tendency to reciprocate can even generalize so people become more helpful toward others in general after being helped. On the other hand, people will avoid or even retaliate against those perceived not to be cooperating. People sometimes mistakenly fail to help when they intended to, or their helping may not be noticed, which may cause unintended conflicts. As such, it may be an optimal strategy to be slightly forgiving of and have a slightly generous interpretation of non-cooperation.
      A tendency towards reciprocity implies that people will feel obligated to respond if someone helps them. This has been used by charities that give small gifts to potential donors hoping thereby to induce reciprocity. Another method is to announce publicly that someone has given a large donation. The tendency to reciprocate can even generalize so people become more helpful toward others in general after being helped. On the other hand, people will avoid or even retaliate against those perceived not to be cooperating. People sometimes mistakenly fail to help when they intended to, or their helping may not be noticed, which may cause unintended conflicts. As such, it may be an optimal strategy to be slightly forgiving of and have a slightly generous interpretation of non-cooperation.
      People are more likely to cooperate on a task if they can communicate with one another first. This may be due to better assessments of cooperativeness or due to exchange of promises. They are more cooperative if they can gradually build trust, instead of being asked to give extensive help immediately. Direct reciprocity and cooperation in a group can be increased by changing the focus and incentives from intra-group competition to larger scale competitions such as between groups or against the general population. Thus, giving grades and promotions based only on an individual's performance relative to a small local group, as is common, may reduce cooperative behaviors in the group.
      People are more likely to cooperate on a task if they can communicate with one another first. This may be due to better assessments of cooperativeness or due to exchange of promises. They are more cooperative if they can gradually build trust, instead of being asked to give extensive help immediately. Direct reciprocity and cooperation in a group can be increased by changing the focus and incentives from intra-group competition to larger scale competitions such as between groups or against the general population. Thus, giving grades and promotions based only on an individual's performance relative to a small local group, as is common, may reduce cooperative behaviors in the group.
      Hunters widely sharing the meat has been seen as a costly signal of ability and research has found that good hunters have higher reproductive success and more adulterous relations even if they themselves receive no more of the hunted meat than anyone else. Similarly, holding large feasts and giving large donations has been seen as ways of demonstrating one's resources. Heroic risk-taking has also been interpreted as a costly signal of ability.
      Both indirect reciprocity and costly signaling depend on the value of reputation and tend to make similar predictions. One is that people will be more helping when they know that their helping behavior will be communicated to people they will interact with later, is publicly announced, is discussed, or is simply being observed by someone else. This have been documented in many studies. The effect is sensitive to subtle cues such as people being more helpful when there were stylized eyespots instead of a logo on a computer screen. Weak reputational cues such as eyespots may become unimportant if there are stronger cues present and may lose their effect with continued exposure unless reinforced with real reputational effects. Public displays such as public weeping for dead celebrities and participation in demonstrations may be influenced by a desire to be seen as altruistic. People who know that they are publicly monitored sometimes even wastefully donate money they know are not needed by recipient which may be because of reputational concerns.
      Women have been found to find altruistic men to be attractive partners. When looking for a long-term partner, altruism may be a preferred trait as it may indicate that he is also willing to share resources with her and her children. It has been shown that men perform altruistic acts in the early stages of a romantic relationship or simply when in the presence of an attractive woman. While both sexes state that kindness is the most preferable trait in a partner there is some evidence that men place less value on this than women and that women may not be more altruistic in presence of an attractive man. Men may even avoid altruistic women in short-term relationships which may be because they expect less success.
      People may compete over getting the benefits of a high reputation which may cause competitive altruism. On the other hand, in some experiments a proportion of people do not seem to care about reputation and they do not help more even if this is conspicuous. This may possibly be due to reasons such as psychopathy or that they are so attractive that they need not be seen to be altruistic. The reputational benefits of altruism occur in the future as compared to the immediate costs of altruism in the present. While humans and other organisms generally place less value on future costs/benefits as compared to those in the present, some have shorter time horizons than others and these people tend to be less cooperative.
      Explicit extrinsic rewards and punishments have been found to sometimes actually have the opposite effect on behaviors compared to intrinsic rewards. This may be because such extrinsic, top-down incentives may replace (partially or in whole) intrinsic and reputational incentives, motivating the person to focus on obtaining the extrinsic rewards, which overall may make the behaviors less desirable. Another effect is that people would like altruism to be due to a personality characteristic rather than due to overt reputational concerns and simply pointing out that there are reputational benefits of an action may actually reduce them. This may possibly be used as derogatory tactic against altruists, especially by those who are non-cooperators. A counterargument is that doing good due to reputational concerns is better than doing no good at all.
      • Kin selection. That animals and humans are more altruistic towards close kin than to distant kin and non-kin has been confirmed in numerous studies across many different cultures. Even subtle cues indicating kinship may unconsciously increase altruistic behavior. One kinship cue is facial resemblance. One study found that slightly altering photographs so that they more closely resembled the faces of study participants increased the trust the participants expressed regarding depicted persons. Another cue is having the same family name, especially if rare, and this has been found to increase helping behavior. Another study found more cooperative behavior the greater the number of perceived kin in a group. Using kinship terms in political speeches increased audience agreement with the speaker in one study. This effect was especially strong for firstborns, who are typically close to their families.
      • Vested interests. People are likely to suffer if their friends, allies, and similar social ingroups suffer or even disappear. Helping such group members may therefore eventually benefit the altruist. Making ingroup membership more noticeable increases cooperativeness. Extreme self-sacrifice towards the ingroup may be adaptive if a hostile outgroup threatens to kill the entire ingroup.
      • Reciprocal altruism. See also Reciprocity (evolution).
        • Direct reciprocity. Research shows that it can be beneficial to help others if there is a chance that they can and will reciprocate the help. The effective tit for tat strategy is one game theoretic example. Many people seem to be following a similar strategy by cooperating if and only if others cooperate in return.
      • Direct reciprocity. Research shows that it can be beneficial to help others if there is a chance that they can and will reciprocate the help. The effective tit for tat strategy is one game theoretic example. Many people seem to be following a similar strategy by cooperating if and only if others cooperate in return.
        • Indirect reciprocity. The avoidance of poor reciprocators and cheaters causes a person's reputation to become very important. A person with a good reputation for reciprocity have a higher chance of receiving help even from persons they have had no direct interactions with previously.
        • Strong reciprocity. A form of reciprocity where some individuals seem to spend more resources on cooperating and punishing than would be most beneficial as predicted by several established theories of altruism. A number of theories have been proposed as explanations as well as criticisms regarding its existence.
        • Pseudo-reciprocity. An organism behaves altruistically and the recipient does not reciprocate but has an increased chance of acting in a way that is selfish but also as a byproduct benefits the altruist.
      • Costly signaling and the handicap principle. Since altruism takes away resources from the altruist it can be an "honest signal" of resource availability and the abilities needed to gather resources. This may signal to others that the altruist is a valuable potential partner. It may also be a signal of interactive and cooperative intentions since those not interacting further in the future gain nothing from the costly signaling. It is unclear if costly signaling can indicate a long-term cooperative personality but people have increased trust for those who help. Costly signaling is pointless if everyone has the same traits, resources, and cooperative intentions but become a potentially more important signal if the population increasingly varies on these characteristics.
      • Indirect reciprocity. The avoidance of poor reciprocators and cheaters causes a person's reputation to become very important. A person with a good reputation for reciprocity have a higher chance of receiving help even from persons they have had no direct interactions with previously.
      • Strong reciprocity. A form of reciprocity where some individuals seem to spend more resources on cooperating and punishing than would be most beneficial as predicted by several established theories of altruism. A number of theories have been proposed as explanations as well as criticisms regarding its existence.
      • Pseudo-reciprocity. An organism behaves altruistically and the recipient does not reciprocate but has an increased chance of acting in a way that is selfish but also as a byproduct benefits the altruist.
      • Group selection. It has controversially been argued by some evolutionary scientists such as David Sloan Wilson that natural selection can act at the level of non-kin groups to produce adaptations that benefit a non-kin group even if these adaptions are detrimental at the individual level. Thus, while altruistic persons may under some circumstances be outcompeted by less altruistic persons at the individual level, according to group selection theory the opposite may occur at the group level where groups consisting of the more altruistic persons may outcompete groups consisting of the less altruistic persons. Such altruism may only extend to ingroup members while there may instead prejudice and antagonism against outgroup members (See also in-group favoritism). Group selection theory has been criticized by many other evolutionary scientists.
      • Kamma Niyama — Consequences of one's actions
      • Utu Niyama — Seasonal changes and climate
      • Biija Niyama — Laws of heredity
      • Citta Niyama — Will of mind
      • Dhamma Niyama — Nature's tendency to produce a perfect type
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