The nature of human altruism

  title={The nature of human altruism},
  author={Ernst Fehr and Urs Fischbacher},
Some of the most fundamental questions concerning our evolutionary origins, our social relations, and the organization of society are centred around issues of altruism and selfishness. Experimental evidence indicates that human altruism is a powerful force and is unique in the animal world. However, there is much individual heterogeneity and the interaction between altruists and selfish individuals is vital to human cooperation. Depending on the environment, a minority of altruists can force a… 
Human Altruism – Proximate Patterns and Evolutionary Origins
Current gene-based evolutionary theories cannot explain important patterns of human altruism pointing towards the need for theories of cultural evolution and gene-culture coevolution.
The Evolutionary Origins of Human Generosity
This article examines how altruism and self-interest are linked in human generosity, and what social scientists can learn from this linkage. The origins of generosity are explored by combining
The Evolution of Psychological Altruism
It is argued that there are two different kinds of altruistic motivation: classical psychological altruism, which generates ultimate desires to help other organisms at least partly for those organisms’ sake, and nonclassical psychological altruists, which are adaptive when the desire to help others is adaptively learnable.
The survival of the kindest: a theoretical review and empirical investigation of explanations to the evolution of human altruism
Charles Darwin was concerned that his entire theory of evolution by natural selection might be negated by a phenomenon prevalent in a variety of species including humans; namely altruism. If natural
Concepts and implications of altruism bias and pathological altruism
  • B. Oakley
  • Psychology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2013
Concepts of pathological altruism, altruism bias, and guardian systems may help open many new, potentially useful lines of inquiry and provide a framework to begin moving toward a more mature, scientifically informed understanding of altruism and cooperative behavior.
Cruel to be kind: The role of the evolution of altruistic punishment in sustaining human cooperation in public goods games
It is concluded that altruistic punishment may form an integral part of that trajectory of human cooperation and group-selection, multi-level selection, and gene and culture co-evolution.
Altruism – A Philosophical Analysis
Altruism is a malleable notion that is understood differently in various disciplines. The common denominator of most definitions of altruism is the idea of unidirectional helping behaviour. However,
Questioning the cultural evolution of altruism
It is argued that cultural transmission yields altruism only to the extent that it relies on maladaptive mechanisms, such as conformist imitation and (in some cases) payoff‐biased transmission.
Altruism may arise from individual selection.


Altruistic punishment in humans
It is shown experimentally that the altruistic punishment of defectors is a key motive for the explanation of cooperation, and that future study of the evolution of human cooperation should include a strong focus on explaining altruistic punished.
The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism
  • R. Trivers
  • Psychology
    The Quarterly Review of Biology
  • 1971
A model is presented to account for the natural selection of what is termed reciprocally altruistic behavior. The model shows how selection can operate against the cheater (non-reciprocator) in the
The evolution of altruistic punishment
It is shown that an important asymmetry between altruistic cooperation and altruistic punishment allows altruistic punished to evolve in populations engaged in one-time, anonymous interactions, and this process allows both altruism punishment and altruism cooperation to be maintained even when groups are large.
Evolution of indirect reciprocity by image scoring
It is proposed that the emergence of indirect reciprocity was a decisive step for the evolution of human societies and the probability of knowing the ‘image’ of the recipient must exceed the cost-to-benefit ratio of the altruistic act.
Altruism as a Handicap: The Limitations of Kin Selection and Reciprocity
Trivers (1971) suggested an additional model "reciprocal altruism" (RA) to interpret altruistic adaptations among non-relatives, but data from several field studies have indicated that in many cases the act of the non-related altruist was not reciprocated.
Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments
We examine a simple theory of altruism in which players' payoffs are linear in their own monetary income and their opponents. The weight on the opponent's income is private information and varies in
Strong reciprocity, human cooperation, and the enforcement of social norms
Strong reciprocity cannot be rationalized as an adaptive trait by the leading evolutionary theories of human cooperation (in other words, kin selection, reciprocal altruism, indirect reciprocity, and costly signaling theory), however, multilevel selection theories of cultural evolution are consistent with strong reciprocity.
The biology of moral systems
The author argues that the ultimate interests of humans are reproductive, and that the concept of morality has arisen within groups because of its contribution to unity in the context, ultimately, of success in intergroup competition.
The evolution of reciprocity in sizable groups.
Strong reciprocity and human sociality.
  • H. Gintis
  • Economics, Psychology
    Journal of theoretical biology
  • 2000
The evidence for an empirically identifiable form of prosocial behavior in humans, which is called "strong reciprocity", is reviewed and a simple model of the evolutionary emergence of strong reciprocity is presented.