University of Phoenix
Dr. Kimberly Kinsey
September 19, 2011
Altruism can be defined as an unselfish desire to help other individuals. The issue of whether or not true altruism exists has been studied by social psychologists for a number of years. A brief summary of both sides of this argument will be provided. Each side as described by Jason Nier will be evaluated. One individual’s perspective on the subject will be explained. Understanding both perspectives on this issue will enable professionals in the field of social psychology to develop their own opinions of the issue and in turn provide a better quality of care to those they serve.
Summary of Issue Prosocial behaviors are those behaviors intent on the benefit of others (Fiske, 2010). This definition has three aspects: intent, benefit, and others. The intent of an individual’s behavior is the main focus of altruism. Altruistic behaviors are self-sacrificial in that they have a cost to the individual and are not based on any possible reward (Fiske, 2010). These types of behaviors, specifically whether they exist or not, is the heart of this issue.
The existence of true altruism has been a topic of longstanding debate in social psychology. Nier (2009) has provided information concerning both sides of this debate (Nier, 2009). One group supports the concept of true altruism stating that individuals help others simply out of a desire to do so. This help earns the individual no reward. The other side of this issue concludes that when individuals offer aid to others, they are doing so for a personal gain of some kind. The articles discussed by Nier, (2009) share opinions from experts on both sides of this issue and provide a foundation upon which to base one’s own decision with regard to true altruism (Nier, 2009).
Evaluation of Arguments
Pro Side of Argument Despite the widely held opinion that egoistic motivation is
References: Daily News Los Angeles. (2011). Retrieved September 17, 2011 from http://www.dailynews.com/breakingnews/ci_18886665 Fiske, S. T. (2010). Social Beings: Core motives in social psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Maner, J. K., & Gailliot, M. T. (2006). Altruism and egoism: Prosocial motivations for helping depend on relationship context. European Journal of Social Psychology, 37(1), 347-358. May, J. (2011). Egoism, empathy, and self-other merging. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 49(1), 25-39. Nier, J. A. (2009). Taking sides: Clashing views in social psychology (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.