Current status of the empathy- altruism hypothesis.

Research supporting the empathy-altruism hypothesis suggests that the value assumption of the theory of rational choice is wrong. Apparently, humans can value more than their own welfare. Empathic concern felt for someone in need can produce altruistic motivation with the ultimate goal of increasing that person’s welfare. But this altruistic motivation is not always a friend of the common good. Research also reveals that empathy-induced altruism can pose a threat to the common good in social dilemmas. Indeed, in certain nontrivial circumstances, it can pose a more powerful threat than does self-interested egoism.

(1969) Empathy, outcome, and altruism.

(1984) The origins of empathy and altruism.

Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis - Oxford Scholarship

In psychological research on altruism, studies often observe altruism as demonstrated through prosocial behaviors such as helping, comforting, sharing, cooperation, philanthropy, and community service. Research has found that people are most likely to help if they recognize that a person is in need and feel personal responsibility for reducing the person's distress. Research also suggests that the number of bystanders witnessing distress or suffering affects the likelihood of helping (the ). Greater numbers of bystanders decrease individual feelings of responsibility. However, a witness with a high level of empathic concern is likely to assume personal responsibility entirely regardless of the number of bystanders. A feeling of personal responsibility or - moral norm - has also strongly been associated with other pro-social behaviors such as charitable giving.

Current status of the empathy-altruism ..

Many studies have observed the effects of (as a form of altruism) on happiness and health and have consistently found a strong connection between volunteerism and current and future health and well-being. In a study of older adults, those who volunteered were higher on life satisfaction and will to live, and lower in , , and . Volunteerism and helping behavior have not only been shown to improve mental health, but physical health and longevity as well, attributable to the activity and social integration it encourages. One study examined the physical health of mothers who volunteered over a 30-year period and found that 52% of those who did not belong to a volunteer organization experienced a major illness while only 36% of those who did volunteer experienced one. A study on adults ages 55+ found that during the four-year study period, people who volunteered for two or more organizations had a 63% lower likelihood of dying. After controlling for prior health status, it was determined that volunteerism accounted for a 44% reduction in mortality. Merely being aware of kindness in oneself and others is also associated with greater well-being. A study that asked participants to count each act of kindness they performed for one week significantly enhanced their subjective happiness. It is important to note that, while research supports the idea that altruistic acts bring about happiness, it has also been found to work in the opposite direction—that happier people are also kinder. The relationship between altruistic behavior and happiness is bidirectional. Studies have found that generosity increases linearly from sad to happy affective states.

27/02/2002 · Batson_The Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis

Jorge Moll and Jordan Grafman, neuroscientists at the and LABS-D'Or Hospital Network (J.M.) provided the first evidence for the neural bases of altruistic giving in normal healthy volunteers, using . In their research, published in the USA in October 2006, they showed that both pure monetary rewards and charitable donations activated the reward pathway, a primitive part of the brain that usually responds to food and sex. However, when volunteers generously placed the interests of others before their own by making charitable donations, another brain circuit was selectively activated: the subgenual cortex/septal region. These structures are intimately related to social attachment and bonding in other species. Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable. One brain region, the subgenual cortex/, contributes to learning altruistic behavior, especially in those with trait empathy. The same study has shown a connection between giving to charity and the promotion of social bonding.

Current status of the empathy-altruism hypothesis.

Altruism figures prominently in Buddhism. Love and compassion are components of all forms of Buddhism, and are focused on all beings equally: love is the wish that all beings be happy, and compassion is the wish that all beings be free from suffering. "Many illnesses can be cured by the one medicine of love and compassion. These qualities are the ultimate source of human happiness, and the need for them lies at the very core of our being" (Dalai Lama).

Current Status of the Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis ..

There are problems of early stage evolution of altruism. A first emotionally empathic individual would, if it was genetic, have been effectively exploited to death by the preexisting non-empathic individuals. This applies regardless how far back in evolution the problem is moved, not restricted to hominid but extending to pre-reptilian or anything in between including early mammals. The first empathic individual would effectively be exploited every time another individual was in the right place at the right time to take advantage, so no evolutionary adaptation to exploiting empathic individuals would be required for the lethality to take effect. It is de facto impossible that mutations for emotional empathy, ability to recognize it in others, and a direction of it towards those individuals would all occur at the same time. An ability to recognize a non-existent behavior is of no evolutionary use and so cannot have pre-evolved.