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Many cultures view altruism to the poor as altruistic.

Altruism ( Latin, old 'the other') means in everyday language " altruism , selflessness, thinking and acting out of consideration for others", but it cannot be defined universally until today. According to its "creator" Auguste Comte, the term is an antithesis to egoism and therefore includes a deliberate behavior that brings one individual in favor of another individual more costs than benefits. Other authors, such as Humberto Maturana , Charlie L. Hardy and Mark van Vugt or David Miller and David Kelley, assume that altruistic action does not have to be linked to an immediate benefit or equivalent, but ultimately - in the long run - to it The benefit of the agent is greater than the costs incurred. Other scholars such as Jonathan Seglow argue in their variant of the definition that altruism cannot be enforced without losing its altruistic character. From this it is concluded that altruistic behavior represents a voluntary act and thus a free decision of the agent. Altruistic behavior can represent a model or ideal in a religious context ( charity ).

Altruistic behavior

Altruistic behaviors were "proven" in humans and various animal species with the aid of the respective definition of terms or imagined interpretation; a study published in 2009 attributes altruism to plants as well, and in 2010 the journal Nature described altruistic behavior in bacteria . According to a further variant of the definition, altruism is not necessarily based on will , morally , idealistically or normatively , but can also be part of the innate behavior of an individual. Another, more limited, interpretation of altruism is - using a definition exclusively for humans - the “willful” pursuit of the interests or the well-being of others or the common good . Altruistic behavior is also equated with selfless behavior. This does not take into account the aspect of the goal of the actions that take place out of selflessness. The conception of pure selflessness instead emphasizes the postponement of one's own concerns to the point of self-sacrifice. The experienced suspension and balance of interests between egoism and altruism is also known as love . In addition to selflessness, altruism is another synonym for altruism. The social psychology speaks of prosocial behavior (see below). Examples of altruistic organizations are Doctors Without Borders and the Prem Rawat Foundation .

Types and forms of altruism

Brood care behavior

When individuals selflessly accept disadvantage in order to help others, it is considered altruistic to human behavior. When it comes to animal behavior, biologists only use this term if this behavior does not benefit their own offspring. Evolutionary biology defines the (reproductive) fitness of a behavior according to how it affects the expected number of individual offspring. Cooperative behavior that increases the number of one's own offspring does not necessarily count as altruism. The brood care observed in many animal species as well as in humans, i.e. helping one's own offspring, is therefore only a possible case of altruism in humans. From a biological point of view, it would only be "real" altruism if the helping individual suffers real fitness disadvantages; H. if his behavior reduces his own direct number of offspring.

Moral and normative altruism

A moral altruist acts altruistically based on principles. An example of such a principle is Kant's categorical imperative . Internalized morality is expressed in the voice of conscience , which to follow can lead to altruistic action. The moral altruist is not to be confused with the moral apostle : he preaches more than himself setting an example for someone who does right or good.

Crèche, painting by Albert Anker (1890)

Justice is one of the highest values ​​in our society. We often act altruistically for the sake of justice. This also includes working for people who are treated unfairly or who suffer from unfair living conditions. Justice is a mostly internalized social norm .

Even when we are not altruistically motivated by internalized values, we often act altruistically because this is what is expected of us. If z. For example, if someone breaks down on the street, others are expected to come to their aid. What motives they have is secondary. One motive for the helper can be to meet the expectations of others, i. H. behave in accordance with a social or even legal norm (see failure to provide assistance ).

Action that goes beyond the fulfillment of duties or expectations and thus actually deserves the title of altruism in the sense of extraordinaryness is also referred to as supererogatory action.

A distinction must also be made between apparently good, but actually calculating behavior.


Not all forms of sympathy require empathy ; z. B. Beauty often arouses sympathy; Empathy is not necessary here because beauty is open or are open appears . However, benevolence and compassion are inconceivable without an empathic ability. A very important difference between moral or normative altruism and benevolence is that benevolence is voluntary and not based on an ought. Acting according to principles and norms implicitly carries the message with it, others should act that way too. However, benevolence is at best an invitation to follow. While moral altruism tends to hold others up to their self-interest, the benevolent recognize this self-interest and serve it generously. An altruist out of goodwill, whose sphere of activity goes beyond the narrow framework of relatives, neighbors, friends and acquaintances, is also referred to as a philanthropist .

Acting out of benevolence must be distinguished from acting out of compassion. Also, " Schopenhauer claimed that whoever once all beings have understood the connection, of egoism is incapable because he recognized that each suffering he inflict other, meet himself; he can no longer make a distinction between himself and the others, whose promotion is his own. "( Georg Simmel )

In a less demanding and comprehensive sense, this phenomenon is referred to in social psychology as self-other merging . Even if many definitions of altruism assume that altruism is connected with a victim, when acting out of pity one can only speak of victim to a limited extent, because identification with humans or animals in need removes the separation between ego and age. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe formulated this insight in his poem: " If you want to be happy in life, contribute to the happiness of others; because the joy we give returns to your own heart. "

Aside from benevolence and compassion, altruistic behavior is often simply out of affection or generalized gratitude for life.

Rational altruism

If one does not want to regard altruism from the outset as rationally incomprehensible love, the question arises as to what the rationality of altruism is like. Investigations in this regard mostly relate rationality to the consequences that altruistic behavior or action has for the agent himself or for the common good. Rationality can also refer to the relationship between those involved, to a balance between self-interests and those of others.

There are other concepts of rational altruism that put it on an objective basis (e.g. principles, norms, and values). In this case, action, which is usually understood as moral or ethical , is not related to an individual pursuit of interests, but has its rationality in the value to which acting according to such guidelines is objectively assigned. The rationality then lies in the value of the action itself, for example as virtuous , without considering the consequences.

Wisdom altruism

A wisdom of life is that egoists are well advised to be or appear as altruists, because that is how they make the greatest profit. But how is it objectively?

The philosopher Christoph Lumer presented a demanding attempt to show moral intuitions of right and good action as rationally based on self-interest ( prudential [from Latin prudentia - prudentia - intrinsic desirability) ] , taking into account the most subtle psychological phenomena.

Reciprocal exchange

The rationality of reciprocal exchange is obvious. Although action is mostly based on the norm of reciprocity (justice, fairness ) and there is no precise offsetting of performance and consideration, the aim is to prevent the exploitation of altruists by egoists so that the exchange processes can continue. Reciprocity is a means of preventing exploitation.

Generalized exchange

Generalized exchange systems are characterized by the fact that they are based on one-sided services without direct consideration. They can be open (anyone can participate as a recipient of services) or closed (participants who do not also provide services themselves will not be accepted). An example of an open generalized exchange is the road traffic assistance. Anyone can z. B. ask a passer-by for information on a route. The information is provided as a one-sided service. The rationale of generalized exchange is that anyone who needs help can get it and trust it.

Rational balance between self-interests and the interests of others

The proponent of the theory of rational decision, Howard Margolis, has presented a model of such balancing .

The model assumes that in addition to egoistic preferences (interests, motives) there are altruistic preferences. The origin of such altruistic preferences is not the subject of the investigation, but the question of the rationality of the relationship between the pursuit of one's own interests and those of others.

Given a weighting that is different for each person, a resource, e.g. B. an amount of money, or time, used in such a way that the greatest marginal benefit arises, either for one's own interests or for those of others. The more I serve my own interests with my money, the lower the marginal benefit of another monetary unit for me. On the other hand, the more money I have already given altruistically, for example as a donation, the lower the subjective marginal benefit of a further monetary unit for the general public. The equilibrium is where the selfish and the altruistic benefits of another monetary unit have the same value.

Other RC models (from rational choice , theory of rational decision) try to integrate egoism and altruism into a single egocentric utility function , provided they do not exclude altruism as irrational or arational from the outset and thus regard altruism as not comprehensible through the model . A general problem with all RC models is to map altruism as a recognized phenomenon in the model in such a way that it does not amount to an elimination of altruism. A common allegation of certain variants of RC theories is that they explain away altruism by reducing it to egoism. Altruism is then understood as prudence altruism.

Pareto altruism

Vilfredo Pareto introduced the Pareto criterion into economics . It says: One situation is preferable to another if a change in the distribution of goods or factors of production means that at least one consumer is better off and no other consumer is worse off.

According to this criterion, altruistic acts that are not associated with any victim are possible. An example: My visitor asks me to accompany him to the bus stop. Since I wanted to go for a walk later in the evening anyway, I agree, because it makes no difference to me to go ahead. Such actions are quite common in everyday life, although they are usually not noticed as altruistic. Conversely, it is just as possible to pursue selfish interests in such a way that others or the general public are not harmed. This consideration is also very common and can be counted under altruistic behavior.


Altruistic action that aims to improve (maximize) the overall well-being of humanity (or particular units of it), possibly including other living beings, can only be described as rational to a limited extent, since a complete calculation of the consequences of the action is not possible. if this calculation is required. However, this is sometimes possible and is attempted on a smaller, more manageable scale. Utilitarian action is rational in intention, without it being possible to identify a specific action as rational with a view to maximizing the welfare or happiness of the beneficiaries.

An example should explain the basic principle of utilitarian rationality. Let's say I have some money left and want to donate it to Africa. I can then find out how the various aid organizations use their money and what the quality of their work is like. I then donate to the aid organization that I believe will use the donation most effectively and therefore my donation will have the greatest possible “happiness” effect.

A fully utilitarian calculation would also include one's own interests, i.e. in the above example also take into account whether the overall good of humanity would not receive even greater funding if, for example, the amount of the donation is reduced and the remaining amount is used to pursue personal interests. Such a calculation typically falls into a heavy list because people succumb to a bias in favor of their own interests.

Self-Realization Altruism

Individualism and self-actualization do not preclude altruism. The altruistic attitude and corresponding action can be an essential part of the striving for self-realization. Altruism is then an expression of the self that knows that it is connected to other people. Individualistic altruism is voluntary, wanted as an expression, confirmation or shaping of the self, without being forced by social and moral norms.

This can be the case, for example, when a person volunteers for charitable purposes or helps others free of charge in an aid organization such as the Voluntary Fire Brigade, even if he has to get out of bed at two o'clock in the morning to fight a fire.

Pathological altruism

When excessive altruism has harmful consequences, it has been referred to as pathological altruism (morbid charity ) since 2012 . According to this, pathological altruism can be understood as behavior in which the intention to help others leads instead to harm that an outside observer - rationally - would assess as predictable. The damage can affect the person or group you wanted to help, but also other people or groups as well as the supposedly helping person himself.

The evolutionary basis lies in the combination of innate caring behavior and missing or insufficient information about its possibly harmful consequences. A classic example is the brood care of nest parasites ( cuckoo birds ). Another classic example is the negative consequences of well-intentioned “development aid”, especially in Africa .

The medical risks of excessive altruism for the helper themselves are burnout , guilt , shame , anxiety and depression .

The Study of Altruism in the Sciences

Altruism is among other things the subject of research in behavioral biology (especially sociobiology ), social psychology , philosophy and, increasingly, economics .

Philosophical ethics, moral and social philosophy

The distinction between ethics and morality or moral philosophy is controversial. For the subject of altruism, it seems useful to make the following differentiation. Ethical action is consciously concerned about its quality as good or right, at least as long as it has not yet turned into habitual action or acting according to convictions. For example, acting for the welfare of animals is mostly of an ethical character. The moral component, on the other hand, is typically missing, because this is based on the validity of the goodness or correctness of actions. But vegetarianism At least in our culture B. does not have this validity character. With the ethical act but a date of application can claim to be connected. Moral action, on the other hand, is essentially based on such validity of the good or right. So there is a very natural affection from the older generations to children in general. Appropriate action does not have to be ethically qualified. (An adult need not think about whether it is right or good to take a child by the hand who is afraid to cross the street.) Moral validity contains the potential to pass into legal laws. This is e.g. This is the case, for example, with animal welfare laws: an originally ethical behavior towards animals has become generally accepted and has now become moral.

In the following, some of the most important ethics are briefly presented, insofar as they deal with altruism (often not using this word). While most ethicists consider altruism to be “better” than egoism in general, it should not be overlooked that there are also ethics that represent egoism. Probably the best known representative of ethical egoism is Nietzsche . Another example is the objectivism of the philosopher Ayn Rand . The ethical egoism should not be confused with efforts to give weight to the necessities of self-preservation, a "well-understood" or "justified" self-interest, a certain "healthy" egoism in order to avoid excessive altruistic inclinations, demands or demands. Claims (e.g. helper syndrome ) to compensate.

Evolutionary biology

The bee - a symbol of altruism

In evolutionary biology, the term altruism is defined differently from the general usage. In this context, altruistic behavior is anything that favors another individual and that is associated with any disadvantages or costs for the agent. In the modern sense, it was introduced into biological theory by the zoologist and geneticist William D. Hamilton in 1964. Altruism in the evolutionary sense is completely independent of the motives of the agent. In particular, no intentional action is associated with the term altruism .

The existence of altruistic behavior in nature poses a problem for the theory of evolution , as Charles Darwin himself had already recognized. Natural selection favors every trait that increases the reproductive success of its bearer and is directed against every trait that disadvantages it. Understood as a property of the respective characteristic carrier, this is described with the technical term fitness . Altruistic behavior reduces (by definition), at least initially, the fitness of those who behave in this way, since it is associated with costs; however, it increases the fitness of another individual. So a non-altruistic individual would have to be more fit himself, which means, on average, be able to produce more offspring than an altruist. So altruism would have to be weeded out by natural selection as soon as it arises. In order for altruism to exist, if the theory of evolution is correct, altruistic behavior ultimately has to increase the number of offspring compared to egoistic behavior. If this were not the case, it would be refuted. The explanation of altruism is considered to be a key to social behavior in general, as this is often mutualistic; this means that individuals benefit each other through altruistic behavior. The theory of evolution has developed various models that are used to explain altruistic behavior. It is an active field of research in which various theories continue to compete with one another.

The decisive factor for the evolutionary biological explanation of altruistic behavior is that in the end it must not really be selfless, but must in some way increase the reproductive success. In order to emphasize this state of affairs in relation to normal usage, some biologists have suggested using other terms for behavior, for example reciprocity , (social) donorism, nepotism ; In the end, however, these did not prevail.

  • Reciprocal altruism

Reciprocal altruism is when altruistic behavior is "repaid" on the basis of reciprocity. This phenomenon of reciprocal altruism is known primarily from higher primates including humans. Like every biological altruism, it is initially associated with costs (i.e. disadvantages in reproductive success), which later somehow "pay off". The theory of reciprocal altruism was introduced into research primarily by Robert Trivers in the early 1970s. It is based on generalizations of game theory . Different variants were suggested:

    • Indirect reciprocity

Indirect reciprocity is a theory that seeks to explain evolution through natural selection of altruistic behavior towards an unrelated individual when that behavior is not reciprocated by the same individual.

    • Strong reciprocity

Strong reciprocity denotes altruistic rewarding of cooperative behavior and altruistic punishment of uncooperative behavior. It assumes individual recognition and is therefore primarily discussed in connection with human behavior.

  • Group selection

Group selection occurs when individuals who belong to the group accept their own disadvantages for the benefit of the group, but these are ultimately exceeded by the relative advantage of the more successful group over other groups. The theory of group selection was first developed by Vero Wynne-Edwards in the early 1960s. Due to the criticism of William D. Hamilton , the theory was considered completely outdated for a long time. In the 2000s it was revived in the form of multilevel selection by David Sloan Wilson and later worked out mathematically on a new basis by Martin A. Nowak, Corina E. Tarnita and Edward O. Wilson. The newer theory is also highly controversial. Many biologists take the position that it does not differ in substance from the inclusive fitness theory, but merely prepares the same facts in a mathematically different way. The mathematical equivalence is often derived on the basis of the Price equation .

  • Including fitness and relatives selection

According to the theory of inclusive fitness , developed by William D. Hamilton, altruistic behavior with its own reproductive disadvantages can evolve at the expense of others if it increases the frequency of a gene that produces this altruism in the population because more conspecifics survive, who also carry this gene. Since individuals perish when they die, all that is actually passed on to the next generation is the genes, so that what matters is not the success of the individuals but that of the genes. Richard Dawkins popularized this gene-centered view through his linguistic image of the “ selfish gene ”. This effect can occur particularly easily if the altruistically favored individuals are closely related to the helper. The evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith led coined the term " kin selection " (English. Kin selection) a. Both concepts are related, but not identical. There can be both relative selection that is not based on indirect fitness effects, as well as indirect fitness effects that are not realized through relative selection.

Social psychology

In the course of the development of psychology into an empirical science, vague terms such as helpfulness, altruism, etc. have been replaced by the more easily operationalizable term prosocial behavior . However, the increased clarity of the term occurs at the expense of the term's scope. Prosocial behavior means relatively unambiguous, observable behavior that is undertaken for other people or is oriented towards their well-being, e.g. B. and primarily helpful behavior. Auxiliary readiness as setting or compassion as a motive to help any components include the concept of pro-social behavior more. The term altruism (mostly in the usual, broader sense, including motives, etc.) has, however, been able to continue to assert itself, in some cases “altruism” and “prosocial behavior” are also used synonymously.

Certain connections between prosocial behavior and some personality traits such as empathy could be found, but no “ altruistic personality ”; on the contrary, the strong influence of situational characteristics was shown again and again. In the classic study by Hartshorne and May (1929) of 10,000 elementary and high school students, prosocial behavior varied from situation to situation.

Darley and Batson (1973) put an apparently injured person by the side of the street and observed the helping behavior of theology students attending a seminary. Even if they had to give a lecture on the subject of The Good Samaritan in the seminar , time pressure had a much greater influence on the behavior in helping. Of the students who were put under time pressure, only four percent helped the “victim”; 63% of those who were under no time pressure.

Another factor is the mood someone is in. Isen and Levin (1972) manipulated this variable by placing a coin in the return slot of a public telephone. Of those who found a coin, 84% helped a man who had lost a stack of papers, but only four percent helped the others. Feelings of guilt also encourage prosocial behavior: Catholics donate more money before confession than afterwards.

An experiment by Amato showed a connection between altruism and population density: In small towns, 50% of passers-by helped an injured person, in large cities only 15%. Milgram explains this often replicated and interculturally valid finding with the Urban Overload Hypothesis: constant overstimulation leads to an inner withdrawal; In a low-stimulus environment, city dwellers help just as often as small town dwellers.

Gender differences - women tend to show long-term prosocial behavior (e.g. caring for loved ones), men tend to show one-off "heroic deeds" (e.g. as firefighters) - are based on gender-specific social norms .

In addition to the evolutionary psychological explanations for prosocial behavior already outlined (survival through cooperation, relative selection , reciprocity norm) Herbert A. Simon expressed the idea that following social norms , including prosocial behavior, also has a selection advantage, i.e. that altruism is genetically programmed be.

According to the theories of social exchange, see Piliavin's cost-benefit model as an example , economic considerations are the motive for prosocial action: an individual shows altruism when the expected benefit is greater than the effort.

This view is relativized by the empathy-altruism hypothesis of the psychologist and theologian C. Daniel Batson (1991). He found that low costs have no effect on behavior if someone feels empathy with the person in need. Compassionate distress is lessened by lessening the underlying suffering.

A research group led by Cialdini presented experiments and interpretations on self-other-merging (oneness) as an alternative explanation to empathy altruism. Help behavior would correlate more strongly with cognitive identification with the person in need than with emotional empathy. With identification, the self of the helper is expanded to a certain extent and includes the person in need. With this theory and corresponding empirical evidence, Cialdini wants to save the basic assumption of psychological egoism even against the empathy-altruism hypothesis , because self-other-merging, oneness, means that the individual who helps the other is basically himself helps. The caring affection and love of the mother for her newborn would ultimately not be directed to the child as a separate being, but to the child who forms a unit with the mother, whereby the affection to the child is to be understood as analogous to the to take care of your own growling stomach. The phenomenon of motherly love, however, is reluctant to reduce it to egoism in the form of theoretical sophistication. This is called the altruism paradox. If the phenomena of self-other merging are explained reductively, the use of the pair of terms egoism-altruism no longer makes sense.

The above characterizes the mainstream social-psychological altruism research, which uses experimental methods based on the model of the natural sciences. Social psychology has produced a wealth of data and theories about what causes, conditions, or factors influence prosocial behavior. The monograph by Schroeder et al. Provides a comprehensive overview of the research. In addition, there are other directions in social-psychological research. Erich Fromm, for example, who made important contributions to altruism research, can be assigned to the paradigm of psychoanalysis .

Sociology and General Social Science

  • Differentiation between two sociologically relevant types of altruistic action

Although the founder of modern sociology as an independent discipline, Auguste Comte, preached altruism (a word he invented) with almost missionary zeal as a secular quasi-religious substitute, the term altruism has not found much resonance in sociology. Comte preached moral altruism, which must act as a counterweight to the egoistic drives unleashed by the market economy in order to keep society viable.

As far as this moral altruism is concerned, one speaks in sociology of moral action, a special form of norm-oriented action that is based on the expectations of fellow human beings and that is a main subject of sociological research. A norm-oriented action is not to be equated with altruistic action, because there is also the norm to act selfishly, especially in business life.

More recently, however, the word altruism has seen a revival in sociology, thanks to the influence of RC theories. However, the meaning of the term has changed. Unlike Comte, this is no longer understood to mean moral action or action according to a norm, but actions that are directed towards the welfare of others without being intended, i.e. have a voluntary character and are based on sympathy.

This distinction between altruistic and moral action is based on the “apple test” that the economist and RC theorist Amartya K. Sen in his famous essay “Rational Fools” to distinguish between two types of action oriented towards other people (other-regard ) suggested to carry out, back: Ego has two apples in hand: one big and one small. He offers age to choose one of the apples. If Alter takes the big apple and ego is outraged about it (“You don't do that”), a norm has been violated. Alter disregarded the norm by taking the big apple, and Ego punishes him with an offended expression. However, if ego happily surrenders the big apple and is happy to be satisfied with the small one, then it is an act that has arisen out of sympathetic altruism.

However, the assignment of the word altruism to this voluntary action, mostly based on sympathy, in contrast to moral action, has not met with general approval, in that some scholars want to apply the term altruism, as Comte had intended, to moral action alone. However, the distinction between these two types of action is undisputed and has received widespread approval.

However, this does not mean that it would always be easy to assign a given action, which is done for the sake of others, to one of the types. With his altruism, Comte meant love for people. However, love is more likely to be assigned to sympathetic altruism. It remains decisive for the normative character that love or altruism is required. It is z. B. accused a person of being loveless. As far as positive feelings, which actually cannot be forced, and their expression in action are expected and such expectations are met, the assignment to normative or moral altruism is obvious. To expect something beyond this contradiction, which due to its character can only be done voluntarily or out of authentic feelings, there is the problem that normative expectations are often internalized through upbringing and socialization. One believes that one is acting at one's own discretion or giving in to one's noble feelings, while in reality one is only obeying the expectations of others. It is then very difficult to determine which type is actually present.

In spite of such typological difficulties, the distinction is highly significant because it leads to very different conclusions whenever political or social reform measures aim to improve living conditions. The American communitarians , for example, do not believe that the culture of modern individualism can produce enough voluntary sympathetic altruism to compensate for the weakening of the normative power of social mores. So z. B. viewed the liberal attitude towards divorce as a mistake. More pressure needs to be exerted by society to make it easier for people to meet their obligations to the community. (From an ethical point of view there is the problem that sympathetic altruism is often partisan or undesirably particular. Kant had argued against the fact that actions out of inclination could have ethical value. See the section “Philosophical ethics, moral and social philosophy”).

The distinction between action that is motivated by following the norms according to the degree of internalization of the norms should not be confused with the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation .

For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that these two types are not the only ones, either in sociology or in everyday understanding, and there are also mixed types. Such a mixed type is z. B. the cavalier .

  • The two fields of research in sociology

For sociology, altruism, altruistic behavior or action is either the phenomenon to be explained, in which case some social or societal conditioning of this behavior is sought (sociological explanation of individual behavior or action, or even explanation of certain aspects of individuality, the personality of the individual (social conditioning identity)) (e.g. "does capitalism produce egoists?") - or else, altruism as a given phenomenon (mostly typologically simplified in a model) serves to describe social phenomena, such as the stability of an order, or social change, e.g. B. to explain the creation, maintenance or dissolution of generalized exchange. Some prominent research fields in sociology or, more generally, social sciences are presented below.

  • Rescuing Jews during the Nazi regime

The American sociologist Samuel P. Oliner, who himself was hidden from the National Socialists by Poland as a Jewish child and was saved by it, was so impressed by this experience that he wrote his life's work of researching this special kind of altruism, which has shown itself among Jewish rescuers , has dedicated. Oliner speaks of heroic or courage altruism. The people who show such altruism are also referred to as “ moral exemplars ” in the English-speaking world . In addition to the work of Oliner and others, the research of political scientist Kristen Renwick Monroe has become known. Monroe rejects attempts to explain that even in such rescue operations a utility-maximizing elective action took place and prefers a theory that regards such rescue activities as the result of social identity (connectedness, relatedness), moral integrity and identification with the victims ( assumption of perspective ). The heroic or courage-altruism, as savior z. B. have shown during the Holocaust , has a special characteristic: In order to help other people, in some cases not only your own life is put at risk, but also the lives of your own families and friends without first asking for their consent.

Rational Decision Theory

Game theory studies

Game theory examines the behavior of individuals in a population in games of the category “ cooperative n-person games ”. The most famous game of this kind is the Prisoner's Dilemma . More complex games are e.g. B. the ultimatum game and the dictator game . The actions of a player in a game are not described as selfish or altruistic, but rather as cooperative or non-cooperative. The typical rational gambler seeks to maximize his profit and will act cooperatively if this gives him an advantage. Whether and when a cooperative move is made depends on the respective rules of the game, the particular game situation and the behavior (or the expected behavior) of the game partners.

Cooperation between people is usually beneficial for everyone involved. Game theory can show how players come to develop cooperative behavior out of self-interest and under which conditions cooperation can establish and maintain itself as normal behavior and under which conditions cooperation does not arise or decline.

One problem with the practical application of game theory research results is the artificiality of the models, which cannot perfectly depict what happens in “real life”. Here, too, the basic rule applies: Models are considered applicable in a given reality if they can be used to make sufficiently good predictions in this reality.

The practical relevance is always given when the assumption of rational egoistic behavior seems advisable. Such submission is z. B. of course in international relations . However, if states have only a few options for action (e.g. North Korea), the threat of apparently irrational behavior can change the game. Game theory is therefore of great importance for peace research .

Christian theology and religious studies

The term altruism does not exist in the Christian Bible . But figuratively speaking, there are forms that could correspond to a rule or legislation, for example from a “for each other”. In Christianity, in Chapter 2 NT of the Philippians, a commandment or parable is pointed out that an “altruistic” form in the above sense could offer as a basis for love and for one another: “Through humility, respect one another more than himself, and Each one does not look at his own, but also at what the other is. ”(Other translation:“ Everyone not only looks at his own, but also cares for the other. ”) However, this sentence points from the point of view of Christian belief rather, what a person could imagine under the action of the indwelling Holy Spirit as a parable for everyday practice. However, it has been said by numerous famous church fathers, such as Pope Benedict XVI, for centuries . in the pastoral letter of 2010 that divine love (in man) can only be understood and perceived if the Bible is understood in its entirety.

It could be said that the Holy Spirit (in us) acts as pure, selfless, unselfish love in its purest form ( love of God ) and therefore always - in the figurative sense - also as "altruist in its most perfect form". Church scholars, however, have a problem with the use of the term altruism, because it has become too well known in the public perception as an exclusively evolutionary property and therefore it is hardly possible to seriously consider extending it to the love of God and the discussion about it.

In addition to the Holy Spirit, the “I” in man perceives another, second reality, namely that of evolutionary reality. Only both (inner) realities in interaction enable people to consciously perceive their "self" and to exercise free will . In this way, before every action, man can decide (freely) whether he wants to follow either the inherent “spiritual voice” of God's love or the “evolutionary voice” of his respective (in evolution ) inherited and acquired knowledge. As a “connecting piece” between the two realities, his conscience offers him a complicated decision-making platform. Every characteristic, such as the above-mentioned “for one another” or love, can, according to Christian beliefs (e.g. the Bible) or religious knowledge experiences (e.g. Christian enlightenment ), exclusively from a kind of “entanglement” of both realities in people come to expression.

There are some definitions of altruism in the natural sciences and humanities, according to which altruistic action loses its altruistic character when it becomes public. According to this, altruistic action can bring benefits to the altruist, such as a (later) increased reputation (indirect reciprocity or reputation building), and the altruistic agent could consequently achieve increased social status ( competitive altruism theory ).

Many saints venerated by the Catholic Church such as Paul or Thomas Aquinas - but also other people venerated as “saints” in the most varied of religions and religious traditions - could be ascribed a figurative “permanent, pure altruistic readiness”, since they Enlightenment experience were practically convinced of a divine existence (also in them) and then (always) led a “divine / spiritually displaced inner” existence. Their conviction let them know that they could (and would) sacrifice all present and future earthly advantages at any time and still transfer them to another reality after their earthly death. B. also called heaven or paradise by Christians . This "permanent readiness for altruism" is explained and understood by some natural scientists and humanities scholars as a form of (damaging) self-sacrifice. There are also many who ascribe altruism exclusively an evolutionary raison d'être, and - even more radically - regard altruistic action as an inherited or acquired (evolutionary) "error" in an individual. Contrary to this criticism, however, a high level of religiosity does not seem to lead to an increase in prosocial behavior, despite the prosocial values ​​clearly represented in the Christian faith. Instead, there are indications that the effects of religiosity on spontaneous prosocial behavior are zero or even negative, whereas religious cues can lead to the activation of prejudice, vengefulness and particular interests (p. 899). At the same time, religiosity seems to encourage a discrepancy between the assessment of one's own prosocial behavior and actual behavior.

Some people see individual (short) passages in the Bible that indicate that selfless and unegoistic behavior (usually meant in an evolutionary sense) is curtailed by statements in the Bible, e.g. B. when giving alms “the left hand should not know what the right hand is doing” (Mt. 6/3). Since, according to valid doctrine of faith, the Bible can only be understood in its entirety and through the simultaneous action of the Holy Spirit in us, the parables contained therein can only be experienced meaningfully against this background. "The right hand" is z. B. here for the love of God in us, which is received (exclusively) from God and can be perceived as a kind of "pure love and infinite bliss" in humans (in natural science love is often defined as feeling, this evolutionary view can be Faith context cannot be applied). "The left hand" stands for an inherited and acquired reality which, as is known, (exclusively) aims at earthly benefits and advantages in evolution. The biblical sentence that someone should “collect treasures in heaven” can also be cited as a “prime example” of a biblical parable for decisions in favor of “altruistic action” in the divine sense (Lk. 6/35; Mt. 6/2; Mt. 5/46; Mt. 6/1; Col. 3/24). Another example of common misleading interpretations of individual scriptures taken out of context is the list of the Ten Commandments . Theologians have always taught that the sentence of Jesus “He who loves me will keep my commandments” (Joh. 14/15) can only be seen and understood in connection with the Ten Commandments. This means that everyone has the opportunity to decide in free will and not - as is claimed in many places - a “law relevant to church law”. In every conscious decision-making process, the earthly offers (e.g. from the brain) are checked for their "compatibility with the Holy Spirit" or the Holy Spirit is checked, e.g. B. requested through a (silent) prayer to be helpful in the (inner) search for the proposed solution that is most strongly embedded by the love of God, even if the proposal identified by the Holy Spirit entails more costs or disadvantages than any other (evolutionary - postponed) alternative. Decisions postponed by God's love are then always accompanied by the absence of unethical, immoral or immoral acts, as described, for example, in Joh. 10 / 1-9 or in the Ten Commandments (lies, theft, robbery, destruction, adultery Etc.).

In the Christian concept of faith, the term love - what is meant here is the selfless, caring, infinite, expectation-free love of God for people, i.e. in the figurative sense altruism in its purest form - also a synonym for z. B. Jesus , God , Holy Spirit , Garden of Eden , Kingdom of God etc. Those who “give more space” to the (inner) voice of the Holy Spirit in their decision-making processes than to all hereditary or acquired “voices” have decided to accept God's love follow and thus Jesus.

See also


  • John Alcock: Animal behavior. An evolutionary approach . 8th edition Sinauer Associates, 2005, ISBN 0-87893-005-1 .
  • David Miller: 'Are they my poor?': The problem of Altruism in a World of Strangers. In: Jonathan Seglow (Ed.): The Ethics of Altruism. Frank Cass Publishers, London 2004, ISBN 978-0-7146-5594-9 , pp. 106-127.
  • David Kelley: Altruism and capitalism. In: IOS Journal. January 1, 1994.
  • Charlie L. Hardy, Mark van Vugt: Giving for Glory in Social Dilemmas: The Competitive Altruism Hypothesis. University of Kent, Canterbury 2006.
  • M. van Vugt, G. Roberts, C. Hardy: Competitive altruism: Development of reputation-based cooperation in groups. In: R. Dunbar, L. Barrett (Eds.): Handbook of evolutionary psychology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, England 2007, pp. 531-540.
  • CL Hardy, M. van Vugt: Nice Guys Finish First: The Competitive Altruism Hypothesis. In: Personality and social psychology bulletin. 2006, vol. 32; Number 10, pp. 1402-1413. (Great Britain)

Social science / philosophy in general or interdisciplinary

  • Heinz Harbach : Altruism and Morality . Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1992, ISBN 3-531-12272-X . (Investigates how the social sciences cope with the challenges of the altruism paradox (recognition of the phenomenon of altruism, but which contradicts the basic theoretical assumptions of a theory or the implicit premise of psychological egoism). Includes an impressive series of quotations from attempts at definition.)
  • Morton Hunt: The Enigma of Charity. Man between egoism and altruism . Campus Verlag, Frankfurt am Main / New York 1992, ISBN 3-593-34621-4 . (suitable for introducing the topic)
  • Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred D. Miller Jr., Jeffery Paul (Eds.): Altruism . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1993, ISBN 0-521-44759-3 . (Essays by philosophers and economists on altruism)
  • Jonathan Seglow (Ed.): The Ethics of Altruism . Frank Cass Publishers, Portland 2004, ISBN 0-7146-5594-5 . (Essays by political scientists and philosophers on altruism)
  • Ernst Fehr, Urs Fischbacher: The nature of human altruism . In: Nature . 425, 2003, pp. 785-791. (Review article on the state of research on altruism (evolution theory and game theory))
  • Analysis & criticism . Journal of Social Theory. Vol. 27, H. 1, 2005, ISSN  0171-5860 (discussion of the research results of Ernst Fehr and co-workers, in particular the interpretation of "altruistic punishment" in game theory experiments as "real" altruism)
  • B. Sharon Byrd (Ed.): Topic: Altruism and Supererogation = Altruism and supererogation . Duncker and Humblot, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-428-09770-X . (Yearbook for Law and Ethics, Vol. 6) (Essays by philosophers and scientists on altruism)
  • Stephen G. Post et al. (Ed.): Research on Altruism & Love. An Annotated Bibliography of Major Studies in Psychology, Sociology, Evolutionary Biology & Theology . Templeton Foundation Press, Philadelphia 2003, ISBN 1-932031-32-4 .
  • Thomas Leon Heck (Ed.): The principle of egoism . Noûs Verlag, Tübingen 1994, ISBN 3-924249-12-1 . (Numerous smaller essays on the "principle of egoism", including the presentation of the ideas of Western great minds from Plato to today, compiled by a benevolent cynic)
  • Pearl M. Oliner et al. (Ed.): Embracing the other. Philosophical, Psychological, and Historical Perspectives on Altruism . New York University Press, New York 1992, ISBN 0-8147-6175-5 . (20 essays from philosophy and science on altruism)
  • David Sloan Wilson: Does Altruism Exist? Culture, Genes, and the Welfare of Others. Yale University Press, 2015. ISBN 978-0-300-18949-0 (print); ISBN 978-0-300-20675-3 . (eBook)


  • Christoph Lumer: Rational Altruism. A prudential theory of rationality and altruism . Universitätsverlag Rasch, Osnabrück 2000, ISBN 3-934005-55-1 . (difficult and worth reading, see above in the text)
  • Christoph Lumer: Altruism / Egoism. In: Jordan, Nimtz (Hrsg.): Lexicon Philosophy: Hundred Basic Concepts. Stuttgart, Reclam 2009, pp. 21-23. (easy)
  • Thomas Nagel : The possibility of altruism . Philo Verlagsgesellschaft, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-8257-0066-6 .
  • Thomas Nagel: The view from nowhere . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1992, ISBN 3-518-58116-3 . (Here, Nagel partially revises the views he represented in the book The Possibility of Altruism . Nagel's investigations serve as a basis for discussion for many philosophers)
  • Donald LM Baxter: Altruism, Grief, and Identity . In: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research . Vol. 70, H. 2, 2005, pp. 371-383.

Game theory and RC theory

  • Howard Margolis: Selfishness, Altruism, and Rationality. A Theory of Social Choice . University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1982, ISBN 0-226-50524-3 . (see above in the text)
  • Nobuyuki Takahashi : The Emergence of Generalized Exchange . In: American Journal of Sociology . Vol. 105, H. 4, 2000, pp. 1105-1134. (an attempt to make the emergence of generalized exchange under the methodological assumption of rational egoists (who, however, each act according to a subjective fairness norm) understandable)
  • Amartya K. Sen : Rational Fools. A Critique of the Behavioral Foundations of Economic Theory . In: Jane J. Mansbridge (Ed.): Beyond Self-Interest . Chicago / London 1978.
  • Stefano Zamagni (Ed.): The Economics of Altruism . Edward Elgar Publishing, Brookfield 1995, ISBN 1-85278-953-0 . (The International Library of Critical Writings in Economics; Vol. 48)

Social psychology, psychology

  • E. Aronson , TD Wilson, RM Akert: Social Psychology. 6th edition. Pearson Study, 2008, ISBN 978-3-8273-7359-5 , Chapter 11: Prosocial Behavior: Why People Help.
  • C. Daniel Batson : The altruism question. Toward a social-psychological answer . Erlbaum, Hillsdale NJ 1991, ISBN 0-8058-0245-2 . (Historical overview on the subject of altruism, presentation of the empathy-altruism hypothesis, research results to support the hypothesis)
  • C. Daniel Batson: Self-Other Merging and the Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis - Reply to Neuberg et al. In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology . Vol. 73, No. 3, 1997, pp. 517-522.
  • Hans Werner Bierhoff , Leo Montada (Ed.): Altruism. Conditions of helpfulness . Verlag für Psychologie Hogrefe, Göttingen / Toronto / Zurich 1988, ISBN 3-8017-0253-7 .
  • Hans Werner Bierhoff: Prosocial behavior . In: Wolfgang Stroebe (Ed.): Social Psychology. An introduction . 4th edition. Springer, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-540-42063-0 , pp. 319-354.
  • Erich Fromm : The art of loving . 61st edition. Ullstein, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-548-36784-4 .
  • JK Maner et al: The Effects of Perspective Taking on Motivations for Helping - Still No Evidence for Altruism. In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin . Vol. 28, H. 11, 2002, pp. 1601-1610. (Maner et al. Understand self-other merging (perspective taking) as following from psychological egoism and therefore believe that they have refuted Batson's empathy-altruism hypothesis (altruism from empathy as "true" altruism).)
  • Steven L. Neuberg et al .: Does Empathy lead to Anything More Than Superficial Helping? Comment on Batson et al. In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology . Vol. 73, H. 3, 1997, pp. 510-516.
  • David A. Schroeder et al: The psychology of helping and altruism. McGraw-Hill, New York 1995, ISBN 0-07-055611-3 . (On the subject of altruism and self-other merging, see also the article by Baxter (lit. information under philosophy))

Evolutionary biology

  • Robert Axelrod : The evolution of cooperation. Oldenbourg, Munich 2005.
  • E. Fehr, U. Fischbacher: The nature of human altruism. In: Nature. 2003. H. 425, pp. 785-791.
  • Pyotr Alexejewitsch Kropotkin : Mutual help in the animal and human world. Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main / Berlin / Vienna 1976, ISBN 3-548-03225-7 .
  • Matt Ridley: The Biology of Virtue. Why it pays to be good. Ullstein, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-550-06953-7 .
  • Robert Trivers : The evolution of reciprocal altruism. In: Quarterly Review of Biology. Vol. 46, 1971, pp. 189-226.
  • Robert Trivers: Social Evolution. Benjamin / Cummings, Menlo Park (California) 1985.
  • Eckart Voland : The nature of man. Basic course in sociobiology. Beck, Munich 2007.

Web links

Wiktionary: Altruism  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

References and comments

  1. ^ Gerhard Truig: Large German Dictionary.
  2. David Miller: 'Are they my poor?': The problem of Altruism in a World of Strangers. In: Jonathan Seglow (Ed.): The Ethics of Altruism. : Frank Cass Publishers, London 2004, ISBN 978-0-7146-5594-9 , pp. 106-127.
  3. a b Manuela Lenzen: Evolution theories in the natural and social sciences . Campus Verlag, 2003, ISBN 3-593-37206-1 ( Google Books ).
  4. ^ Charlie L. Hardy, Mark van Vugt: Giving for Glory in Social Dilemmas: The Competitive Altruism Hypothesis . (PDF; 75 kB) University of Kent, Canterbury 2006.
  5. ^ David Kelley: Altruism and capitalism. In: IOS Journal. January 1, 1994.
  6. Jonathan Seglow (Ed.): The Ethics of Altruism. ROUTLEDGE CHAPMAN & HALL. London, ISBN 978-0-7146-5594-9 .
  7. ^ Marian Stamp Dawkins: The discovery of animal consciousness , Berlin 1994; Frans de Waal: The good monkey. The origin of right and wrong in humans and other animals , Hanser, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-446-18962-9 , and Empathy and Pro-Social Behavior in Rats , In: Science Magazine, Vol. 334 (December 2011)
  8. Guillermo P. Murphy, Susan A. Dudley: Kin recognition: Competition and cooperation in Impatiens (Balsaminaceae). In: American Journal of Botany. Volume 96, 2009, pp. 1990–1996, full text ( memento of November 14, 2009 in the Internet Archive ), doi : 10.3732 / ajb.0900006 of November 16, 2009: Plants are altruistic too. Balsam recognizes relatives and then changes its normally pronounced competitive reaction.
  9. ^ Henry H. Lee, Michael N. Molla, Charles R. Cantor, James J. Collins Bacterial charity work leads to population-wide resistance. In: Nature. Vol. 467, pp. 82-85 (September 2, 2010; doi : 10.1038 / nature09354 ).
  10. Some researchers, however, include behavior that is disadvantageous in the short term, even if it increases the number of offspring in the long term: Robert L. Trivers (1971): The evolution of reciprocal altruism. Quarterly Review of Biology 46: 35-57.
  11. a b c S. A. West, AS Griffin, A. Gardner Social semantics: altruism, cooperation, mutualism, strong reciprocity and group selection. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 20: 415-432. doi : 10.1111 / j.1420-9101.2006.01258.x
  12. Redouan Bshary & R. Bergmüller (2008): Distinguishing four fundamental approaches to the evolution of helping. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 21 (2): 405-420. doi : 10.1111 / j.1420-9101.2007.01482.x
  13. Georg Simmel: Introduction to Moral Science. 1892. Vol. 1, Chapter 2: Egoism and Altruism. P. 131.
  14. Christoph Lumer: Rational Altruism. A prudential theory of rationality and altruism. University Press Rasch, Osnabrück 2000
  15. Howard Margolis: Selfishness, Altruism, and Rationality. A Theory of Social Choice. Chicago and London 1982 (engl.)
  16. An attempt to elucidate the origin of such altruistic preferences is being made by the RC theorist David Schmidtz, albeit with a very broad RC version that almost threatens to transition to another paradigm. David Schmidtz: Reasons for Altruism. In: EF Paul, FD Miller Jr., J. Paul (Eds.): Altruism. 1993, pp. 52-68.
  17. E.g. Dieter Rucht: On the limits of theories of rational choice - illustrated using the example of altruistic engagement. In: Jutta Allmendinger (Ed.): Gute Gesellschaft? Negotiations of the 30th congress of the German Society for Sociology in Cologne 2000. Opladen 2001, pp. 962–983, with an indignant undertone
  18. Barbara Oakley, Ariel Knafo, Guruprasad Madhavan, David Sloan Wilson (Eds.): Pathological Altruism , Oxford University Press, USA, 2012, ISBN 978-0-19-973857-1 , PDF .
  19. a b B. A. Oakley: Concepts and implications of altruism bias and pathological altruism. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . Volume 110 Suppl 2, June 2013, pp. 10408-10415, doi: 10.1073 / pnas.1302547110 , PMID 23754434 , PMC 3690610 (free full text).
  20. a b E. B. Tone, EC Tully: Empathy as a "risky strength": a multilevel examination of empathy and risk for internalizing disorders. In: Development and psychopathology. Volume 26, number 4 Pt 2, 11 2014, pp. 1547-1565, doi: 10.1017 / S0954579414001199 , PMID 25422978 , PMC 4340688 (free full text) (review).
  21. Samir Okasha: Biological Altruism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online
  22. a b W. D. Hamilton (1964): The genetic evolution of social behavior. I and II. Journal of Theoretical Biology 7: pp. 1-52.
  23. ^ William D. Hamilton (1972): Altruism and related phenomena, mainly in social insects. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 3: 193-232.
  24. Lee Alan Dugatkin (2007): Inclusive Fitness Theory from Darwin to Hamilton. Genetics 176: 1375-1380.
  25. ^ Edward O. Wilson (2005): Kin Selection as the Key to Altruism: Its Rise and Fall. Social Research 72 (1): 159-166.
  26. ^ Bert Hölldobler, Edward O. Wilson: The Ants. Harvard University Press, 1990. ISBN 9780674040755 , p. 179.
  27. Martin A. Nowak & Karl Sigmund (2005): Evolution of indirect reciprocity. Nature 437: 1291-1298. The theory was mainly worked out by the American evolutionary biologist Richard D. Alexander .
  28. ^ Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis (2004): The evolution of strong reciprocity: cooperation in heterogeneous populations. Theoretical Population Biology 65: 17-28.
  29. ^ Martin A. Nowak, Corina E. Tarnita, Edward O. Wilson (2010): The evolution of eusociality. Nature 466: 1057-1062.
  30. ^ JAR Marshall (2011): Group Selection and Kin Selection: Formally Equivalent Approaches. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26: 325-332.
  31. DC Queller (1985): Kinship, Reciprocity and Synergism in the Evolution of Social Behavior. Nature 318: 366-367.
  32. JW McGlothlin, AJ Moore, JBWolf, ED Brodie (2010): Interacting Phenotypes and the Evolutionary Process. III. Social evolution. Evolution 64: 2558-2574.
  33. Mario Mikulincer, Phillip R. Shaver: Attachment security, compassion, and altruism. In: Current Directions in Psychological Science. Vol. 14, No. 1, 2005, doi: 10.1111 / j.0963-7214.2005.00330.x , pp. 34-38.
  34. ^ Hugh Hartshorne, Mark A. May: Studies in the nature of character. Vol. 2: Studies in service and self-control. Macmillan, New York.
  35. ^ John M. Darley, C. Daniel Batson: From Jerusalem to Jericho: A study of situational and dispositional variables in helping behavior. In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology . Vol. 27 (1), 1973, doi: 10.1037 / h0034449 , pp. 100-108 ( PDF; 418 KB ).
  36. Alice M. Isen, Paula F. Levin: Effect of feeling good on helping: Cookies and kindness. In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 21 (3), 1972, doi: 10.1037 / h0032317 , pp. 384-388.
  37. ^ Mary B. Harris, Sheldon M. Benson, Carroll L. Hall: The effect of confession on altruism. In: The Journal of Social Psychology. Vol. 96, No. 2, 1975, doi: 10.1080 / 00224545.1975.9923284 , pp. 187-192
  38. ^ Paul R. Amato: Helping behavior in urban and rural environments: Field studies based on taxonomic organization of helping episodes. In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 45 (3), 1983, doi: 10.1037 / 0022-3514.45.3.571 , pp. 571-586.
  39. Nancy M. Steblay: Helping behavior in rural and urban environments: A meta-analysis. In: Psychological Bulletin. 102 (3), 1987, doi: 10.1037 / 0033-2909.102.3.346 , pp. 346-356.
  40. ^ Alice H. Eagly: Sex differences in social behavior: A social-role interpretation. Erlbaum, Hillsdale 1987, ISBN 0898598044
  41. Martin L. Hoffman: Is altruism a part of human nature? In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 40 (1), 1981, doi: 10.1037 / 0022-3514.40.1.121 , pp. 121-137.
  42. ^ Edward J. Lawler, Shane R. Thye: Bringing emotions into social exchange theory. In: Annual Review of Sociology. Vol. 25, 1999, doi: 10.1146 / annurev.soc.25.1.217 , pp. 217-244.
  43. ^ C. Daniel Batson: The altruism question: Towards a socialpsychological answer. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale 1991, ISBN 0805802452
  44. ^ Robert B. Cialdini, Stephanie L. Brown, Brian P. Lewis, Carol Luce, Steven L. Neuberg: Reinterpreting the empathy-altruism relationship: When one into one equals oneness. In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 73, No. 3, 1997, pp. 481-494 ( PDF; 1.483 MB ).
  45. Accordingly, there are views that refrain from considering egoism and altruism as real properties of the behavior or the acting person (or leave this question open), but assume that such behavior is ascribed or " attributed " by observers (including self-observation) . For the social relevance of the “altruistic character” of behavior it is often important that it is perceived and recognized as such. A behavior or character then “counts” as selfish, altruistic, or a mixture of both.
  46. Comte's writings have not yet been translated into German. Statements on altruism can be found particularly in Système de politique positive. Paris, 4 vols., 1851-1854 and in the Catéchisme. first Paris 1852. Werner Fuchs-Heinritz offers an introduction to Comte: Auguste Comte, Opladen 1998, Westdeutscher Verlag. Apart from the wording, Comte's contribution to the altruism discourse is not of great importance.
  47. See e.g. B. Samuel P. Oliner: Do Unto Others. Extraordinary Acts of Ordinary People. Boulder (Colorado) 2003.
  48. See e.g. B. Kristen Renwick Monroe, Kay Mathiesen, Jack Craypo: If Moral Action Flows Naturally from Identity and Perspective. Is It Meaningful to Speak of Moral Choice? Virtue Ethics and Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust. In: Altruism and Supererogation. Yearbook for Law and Ethics, Vol. 6, 1999 [see Lit.Verz.] Pp. 231–249.
  49. ^ Against: Karl-Dieter Opp : Can Identity Theory Better Explain the Rescue of Jews in Nazi Europe than Rational Actor Theory? In: Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change. 1997, pp. 223-253. (Explanation by means of a wide RC version is possible, see also FN 1)
  50. Ernst Fehr, Joseph Henrich: Is Strong Reciprocity a Maladaption? On the Evolutionary Foundations of Human Altruism. Institute for Empirical Research Economics, University of Zurich. Zurich 2003 (online) (PDF; 959 kB), as of February 20, 2008.
  51. ^ Charlie L. Hardy, Mark Van Vugt: Giving for Glory in Social Dilemmas: The Competitive Altruism Hypothesis . ( Memento of December 5, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 200 kB) University of Kent, Canterbury 2006.
  52. ^ Luke W. Galen: Does Religious Belief Promote Prosociality? A Critical Examination Psychological Bulletin, 2012, Vol. 138, No. 5, pp. 876-906