Unraveling Altruism in the Contemporary Indian Metropolitan

Topics: Altruism, Social psychology, Psychology Pages: 10 (3267 words) Published: April 29, 2013
Unraveling altruism in the contemporary Indian metropolitan
Anita Sheerah, Karishma Dhawan, Masrat Wani,
Nipuna Singh, Sakshi Arora and Tapti Malhotra.
Delhi University,
South Campus, Arts Faculty.

Altruism as a trait has been studied since the last 40 years. The present study aims to explore the components of altruism in the contemporary context observed in an Indian metropolitan. In this study a lost letter experiment was used to measure altruism across 120 families, chosen randomly, across various parts of Delhi. The results obtained were significant.

* To find out if altruism exists in the modern contemporary context. * What role do media play in the prevalence of such behavior?

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, 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. Altruism can be distinguished from feelings of duty and loyalty. Altruism is a motivation to provide something of value to a party who must be anyone but one's self, while duty focuses on a moral obligation towards a specific individual (e.g., a god, a king), or collective (e.g., a government). Pure altruism consists of sacrificing something for someone other than the self (e.g. sacrificing time, energy or possessions) with no expectation of any compensation or benefits, either direct, or indirect (e.g., receiving recognition for the act of giving). Much debate exists as to whether "true" altruism is possible. 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 term altruism may also refer to an ethical doctrine that claims that individuals are morally obliged to benefit others. Used in this sense, it usually contrasted to egoism, which is defined as acting to the benefit of one's self. SCIENTIFIC VIEWPOINT

Evolutionary explanations
In the science of ethology (the study of animal behavior), and more generally in the study of social evolution, altruism refers to behavior by an individual that increases the fitness of another individual while decreasing the fitness of the actor. In evolutionary psychology this may be applied to a wide range of human behaviors such as charity, emergency aid, help to coalition partners, tipping, courtship gifts, production of public goods, and environmentalism. Theories of apparently altruistic behavior were accelerated by the need to produce theories compatible with evolutionary origins. Two related strands of research on altruism have emerged from traditional evolutionary analyses and from game theory.

Some of the proposed mechanisms are:
* 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 the 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...
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