Psy490

Topics: Psychology, Thought, Cognition Pages: 2 (629 words) Published: August 26, 2013
Altruism and Psychology
Adam Barker
PSY 490 Capstone Course in Psychology
Dennis Plunkett, MC, CC
July 29, 2013

Altruism and Psychology
The random act of kindness that I completed this week was buying an old man a coffee in front of me at Starbucks. He ordered a Grande Pike with room. I heard the order and said “I’ll get that miss” and without even hesitating handed over my card to pay for the drink. The older man look at me with a cracked smile and confused kind of look before muttering the words “you didn’t have to do that young man, but thank you” I replied with a smile on my face “no problem Sir”. Now, let’s look at a definition of altruism: Altruism involves the unselfish concern for other people. It involves doing things simply out of a desire to help, not because you feel obligated to out of duty, loyalty, or religious reasons. (psychology.about.com) When reading the above statement I think that it is important to point out the key words “unselfish, not because you feel obligated to out of duty, loyalty, or religious reasons”. By reading this it is my interpretation that in order to be altruistic you have to do something and NOT gain anything by doing it. What do you think? Now let’s breakdown the various reasons I could have done this: 1. To ensure that I did my random act of kindness as assigned by the school 2. To get a good feeling and a sense of pleasure, knowing that I helped someone 3. To make sure that I got points on my card

4. To speed up the process so that I didn’t have to wait in line any longer 5. So that the lady behind the counter thought that I was a decent guy All of the above reasons are completely valid, although if you take ANY of the reasons into consideration, would the random act of kindness still be considered altruistic? In fact is there such a thing as altruism? I understand that it seems quite pessimistic, but when you think about it there is some logic behind it. For example: If you were to help an old lady across the...

References: Cherry, Kendra. "What Is Altruism." www.psychology.About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2013
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