Altruism | Individuals and Society | MCAT | Khan Academy

– [Voiceover] I have three
different images here, and they all demonstrate
actions that are happening at different places
and at different times, but the one thing that
these images have in common is that they all show altruistic behavior. They all show images of people
who care about the welfare of other people and are
acting to help them, and behavior like this is beneficial not just to society, but
to individuals as well. Studies have found a
connection between volunteerism and current and future
health and well-being. We also know that adults who
are involved in volunteering have higher life satisfaction
and a decreased risk for depression and
anxiety, but considering that most definitions of
altruism include the idea that the altruistic person isn’t
getting anything in return, we have to wonder with that definition, “Can anything ever be truly altruistic?” Is there ever a time that we actually don’t benefit from altruistic actions? Keeping that in mind, we can
explore what different theories say about altruism and how
this behavior might develop. One thing we know about
altruistic behavior is that people tend to
act more altruistically to close kin or close relatives than to distant kin or non-kin. Even subtle cues indicating kinship may unconsciously increase
altruistic behavior. For example, adding pictures of oneself to pictures of another,
so morphing the features of your face with someone
else’s face actually increases the trust that we tend to
have in that other person. We also know that people have
to increase helping behavior when the person who’s helping
shares their last name, and this is especially true in cases where people have rare last names. We have to ask ourselves if this behavior really counts as altruism if it gives us an evolutionary advantage, if it allows us to pass on our genes, and in this case, I don’t mean our
individual, personal genes, but the genes of those
who are closest to us. So is it really altruism if we’re helping to select for the genes of our kin? People also tend to be more cooperative when it is likely that they will interact with that person again in the future, and this is what’s known
as reciprocal altruism. On the other side of that coin, we also feel more obliged
to help someone else if they’ve helped us, and
this is one of the reasons why charities tend to send out
small gifts to their donors. They hope that by giving you a small gift, you will respond by giving
more to them in the future. Altruism can also benefit us socially. Since altruism takes resources
from the person who’s giving, this can serve as a signal to other people that a person has resources
and that they have ability to gather future resources, and this is referred to as cost signaling. Altruism might also act as
a signal to our community that a person is open to cooperation, and people tend to have an increased trust in individuals who they know
have helped out in the past. These three theories all
come to the same conclusion that altruistic behavior
isn’t really altruistic, but I don’t want you to
think that psychology only talks about altruism in
terms of ulterior motives. Other researchers have theorized that altruism is associated with empathy, and the reasoning behind this theory is that we know what it’s like
to be personally distressed, and so when we see
others who are suffering, we feel the need to step in and act. To support this hypothesis,
researchers have noted that individuals who score
high on measures of empathy are also more likely to engage
in altruistic behaviors. We also know that helping
behaviors and empathy start early. Newborns have a tendency to cry when they hear other newborns cry, and though we can’t really ask
them why they’re doing this, it could be that they recognize when other babies are distressed. We also know that helping behavior tends to emerge around age two, and this is the age
when children typically start offering toys to their companions. Children at this age also tend to play-act altruism and helping, and around age four, they tend to graduate to actually helping, and the fact that all of this
develops at such a young age indicates that altruism might
be a normal human behavior, that we have a tendency
to help other people, even when we have no
internal motive to do so.

4 thoughts on “Altruism | Individuals and Society | MCAT | Khan Academy

  1. I have found the male voice videos more comprehensive as it has less pace as compared to the female one..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *