How Convincing Is Evidence That Altruism Truly Exists? Essay examples

How Convincing Is Evidence That Altruism Truly Exists? Essay examples

Length: 1605 words (4.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

How convincing is evidence that altruism truly exists?
Psychological theories have long postulated that behaviours are incentivized by self-interest, with people only desiring their own well-being (Sober & Wilson, 1998), a phenomenon known as egoism. However, recent research suggests that the concept of egoism is flawed, and evidence for the existence of altruism has become recognised. ‘Altruism’ was established by Comte (1851) and can be defined as a motivational state aiming to increase another’s welfare, without any expectation of reciprocal benefit. Within psychological literature, there has and continues to be discussion whether humans are truly capable of altruism. Proponents of egoism argue that altruistic behaviours benefit the apparent altruist in subtle ways, suggesting that altruism does not exist. Despite this, there are many evolutionary strategies for altruism, such as kin selection, reciprocal altruism and indirect altruism. Various theories argue in favour of altruism, for example, the empathy-altruism hypothesis (Batson, 1991). However, the convincingness of evidence and the true existence of altruism is questionable, raising the egoism-altruism debate.
Evidence that denotes the existence of altruism emanates from various findings. For instance, Warneken and Tomasello (2006) conducted a study demonstrating the ability of infants to act altruistically. Eighteen-month-old infants could perceive that an adult struggling to achieve their goal needed help and further, without verbal request or eye contact, helped them, demonstrating altruistic motivations. A replication also found that if the adult looked sad, this did not elicit more helping (Newton, Goodman, Rogers, Burris & Thompson, 2010). Toddlers who helped in t...


... middle of paper ...


...ltruism exists and is part of human nature (Piliavin & Charng, 1990), and it has been argued that we tend to underestimate just how altruistic most people are (Miller & Ratner, 1998). However, whilst some researchers argue for altruism, others completely oppose, making it hard to be convinced that true altruism does exist. What makes it more arduous is the difficulty to objectively measure altruism and pinpoint the main influencing motive. Piliavin and Charng (1990) argue that present theories and evidence are consistent with the view that altruism does exist. However, when reviewing widespread evidence, it is evident that the existence of true altruism remains elusive, therefore less convincing. A potential problem is the challenge of defining altruism. To resolve conflict, altruism could be simply defined as behaviour irrespective of its motive to advantage others.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Altruism Is Not Their Selfish Desires

- Generally, a basic definition of altruism would be, “actions intended to benefit others,” (Kassin, Fein, & Markus, 2014, p. 423). This behavior is said to exist in a selfless form. It is meant to reflect an individual’s character and their true intentions within their heart. For some individuals, this act of selflessness may cost them to lose or give up something (Barasch, et al., 2014). However, their good deed outweighs their selfish desires. In most cases, this selflessness, “was motivated by honor, duty, kindness, goodness, compassion, or that [one] acts with integrity or because [one] is virtuous,” (Beardman, 2012, p....   [tags: Altruism, Selfishness, Person, Emotion]

Better Essays
1238 words (3.5 pages)

Essay on Design in the Universe is Evidence that God Exists

- Design in the Universe is Evidence that God Exists The design argument is one of the "proofs" for the existence of God. William Paley produced the most famous publication of this theory. It states that: No complex mechanism can be created by chance, so it must be designed. As the universe is the most complicated mechanism ever produced, it too must have been designed. For something to be designed, there must be a designer, and the only thing great enough to design the universe is God, therefore God exists....   [tags: Papers]

Free Essays
650 words (1.9 pages)

Altruism Essay

- Why do we show altruism. Social and evolutionary biologists, psychologists, economists and philosophers alike have made many attempts at providing an explanation for altruism. As a result, many opposing theories have developed over the years. In this essay, I will attempt to explain altruism as the presence of an altruistic gene which is selected for by natural selection in terms of kin selection. I will explore evidence supporting this theory, as well as evidence pointing to psychological explanations such as reciprocal altruism, social norms and primitive sympathy....   [tags: Psychology]

Better Essays
1080 words (3.1 pages)

Evidence Based Practice in Nursing Essay

- Within this essay Evidence based Practice will be identified and the significant effect it has on the nursing profession, barriers will also be explored in the implementation of Evidence Based Practice. Individuals need specific care tailored to them, it is vitality important to have the correct professional and appropriate personal care. In order to receive this we need to get the patient involved in the decision process, listen to their views and opinions and receive the relevant, accurate, professional and medical information....   [tags: Evidence Based Practice (EBP)]

Better Essays
713 words (2 pages)

The Causes of Altruism Essay

- How do humans actually behave when faced with the decision to help others. The innate desire that compels humans to help is called altruism by psychologists. Through this feeling, humans transform from a selfish jerk to a more compassionate and caring person. Some psychologists believe that this feeling stems from nature itself. Despite the fact that some altruistic acts originate from the pressures of society, altruism predominantly comes from the survival of the fittest, the feeling of empathy, and the selfish desire to benefit your own kin....   [tags: Psychology ]

Better Essays
1151 words (3.3 pages)

The Benefits of Evidence Based Practice in Physiotherapy Essay

- Medical study is a combination of clinical experience and scientific research, which requires proof and evidence. These two components can help physiotherapists with diagnosis, provide treatments for patients and making clinical decision. However, what are the ways for individuals to testify the effectiveness of these methods and treatments. Is there scientific evidence proving the information is correct and up to date. How helpful and appropriate are these methods and treatments to the patients....   [tags: Evidence Based Practice (EBP)]

Better Essays
951 words (2.7 pages)

Essay about Convincing Research Conducted By Pager

- Convincing research conducted by Pager (2003) supports this notion. In Pager 's study, 23-year-old white and black job applicants similar in every credential except the presence or absence of a criminal record - the alleged charge was possessing cocaine "with intent to distribute", and a resulting 18-month incarceration was also indicated on job offers (Pager 2003:949) - applied to entry-level positions with 350 total employers (Pager 2003). The study revealed employers tend to gravitate slightly more towards whites with a criminal record more than blacks without one (17% of employers issued callbacks to whites with criminal records, as opposed to 14% that issued callbacks to "nonoffender" b...   [tags: Employment, Labour economics, Wage slavery, Labor]

Better Essays
1156 words (3.3 pages)

What Altruism Is And Why It Is Used We Must Go Back Essay

- To get an understanding of what altruism is and why it is used we must go back. In the year 1853 Auguste Comte a French philosopher took French word Altrui which means “of or to others” and alruisme which means “selflessness, opposed of egoism" and came out Altruism. Altruism is a sympathetic and generous action done towards others. Although there is no proof of altruism being genetic or if it’s gained though social encounters we do know that it is possessed by most, those who have experienced empathy have a general understanding of altruism....   [tags: Altruism, Kin selection, Richard Dawkins]

Better Essays
1555 words (4.4 pages)

Forensic Evidence And Its Relevance Essay

- Before forensic evidence is presented in a trial, it must be deemed admissible (Imwinkelried, 1998). The admissibility of evidence is determined by its reliability, its relevance and its legitimacy. The evidence must be screened against the trial court’s Rules of Evidence. The trial court is the deciding factor on the admissibility or inadmissibility of any forensic evidence. The Rules of Evidence are utilized by the courts to determine if either side (Defense or Prosecution), have presented any evidence that may be irrelevant to the case at hand (Imwinkelried, 1998)....   [tags: Evidence law]

Better Essays
1001 words (2.9 pages)

Convincing Q? Essay example

- Convincing Q. Voting on a proposition banning genetic engineering seemed odd to me, but to the voters in the county of San Luis Obispo (SLO) on 2 November 2004 it was just another proposal on the ballot. This proposition, known as Measure Q shall make it “unlawful for any person or entity to propagate, cultivate, raise, or grow genetically engineered organisms in San Luis Obispo County.” This law was proposed after the proponents for Measure Q claimed that “the people of San Luis Obispo County wish to protect the county’s agriculture, environment, economy, and private property from genetic pollution by genetically engineered organisms until all the risks associated with these organisms are f...   [tags: Argumentative Persuasive Papers]

Better Essays
1148 words (3.3 pages)