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Altruism and social behavior Essay (Critical Writing)

Altruism is the behavior where an individual feels morally obligated help others even if it is at their own expense. This behavior is a selfless act of concern for the wellbeing of others. Individual who practice this behavior also benefit from it, even though, the benefits may not be seen physically.

According to Maugham, altruism is as much for us as it is for recipients of the kindness. In his opinion, people do selfless things to other people in order to feel pleased with them. This is true because nicest things always happen to people do selfless things (Barber, 2004).

According to Stephen, altruistic emotions and behaviors associate with greater wellbeing, health and longevity. In a recent research, by the University of Miami done on patients with chronic conditions and HIV. Those who joined the support groups to help others lived for long.

When the patients help other patients, they heighten their sense of purpose which reduces their depression levels making them feel virtuous about themselves. This shows altruism is not only beneficial to the recipients of the meritorious deeds but also to the doers of the deeds (Doris, 2010).

According to Schwarzkopf Jr., 0ne cannot help somebody get up a hill without getting nearer to the top themselves. This is the basis of many self-help groups that exist today. It said that when one helps another person the act of helping heals the helper even more than the one helped.

This is so because when one helps another person in solving a problem. The person helping the other one gets to understand more ways of solving the problem than the recipients. Through this the helper also gets an added self-esteem that makes them feel virtuous of themselves.

Being altruistic can have physiological advantage to an individual. Patients with fight flight response are normally at danger of having a weakened body defense. It is a known fact that altruistic emotions and behavior do gain dominance over fear and anxiety that normally initiates the fight flight response.

Through helping others by volunteering in support groups to a condition called helpers high normally emerges in individuals. This causes quick and unspecified physiological changes that turn off the fight flight condition. This shows that the behavior of minding others even if we have serious medical conditions can be just as helpful to us as it is to others (Gilovich et al, 2006).

Altruism as behavior should be instilled in children when they are still young by their guardians, as they say, charity begins at home. When children begin to volunteer at early ages they get enhanced social competence and self-esteem. This also shields them from antisocial behaviors and substance abuse which may lead to early pregnancy resulting in academic failures.

Bringing up children with these teachings can add value to their future lives. Moreover, children brought up in this lifestyle normally end up with better mental and physical health in adult hood than those brought up without this behavior. This only shows to which extent altruism is beneficial to an individual who practices it (Harman, 2010).

The question in many people normally is altruism truly altruistic and does altruism exist. With the current world, there are people who do things in the name of helping others but their main aim is to help themselves. Politicians give out cash donations to the needy so that they can be seen as honorable members of the society, but in the real sense, they are using this behavior as a ladder to achieve their political ambitions. Obviously people will vote for those who are selfless and mindful of others who are in need of help (Nowak, 2011).

According to theory of social exchange all relationships have a give and take even though there is never equilibrium. People normally pretend to be altruistic, but yet they always expect something in return. Being altruistic means being selfless and doing right to others without expecting anything in return.

This theory, however, shows that, with the current world, we live in everything people do has a reason. A man will not buy a lady a car just because he thinks the lady needs a car; obviously the man has some hidden agenda to his generosity. The car may be the easiest way to get to the woman’s heart. This shows that even though the man did a noble thing of buying the lady a car he also expects something like marriage in return (Oakley, 2012).

Additionally, people disguise their hidden ambitions with generosity. This is exceedingly evident in the heroic things that people do for others. In recent times, the main culprits of this behavior are the celebrities and politicians who are out to improve their public image to the public.

They engage in fundraisers and community programs not because they like it but because they need it in their course. For politicians, it is always about publicity and improving their public image. This is so that when the elections come they will remind people of what they did for them when they needed help. This shows that even though they might have been selfless in fighting for the rights of the people, their motivation was never the people’s rights but their own personal ambitions (Scott, 2007).

According to Maugham altruism truly does exist and that people can act out of empathy. This theory is true especially when it means helping at a higher cost. By correctly identifying a person in need, it is possible for anyone to altruistic. Imagine a five year old child stuck in a burning house.

How many people will stand still and watch the child die? Many will try the best way they can save the child from the burning house. When helping the child, remarkably few people will be thinking about the fame and name they will build in case they succeed. The thing on most people’s mind will be the safety of the innocent child’s life. This shows that altruism can truly exist (Post, 2003).

There are many theories about altruism others support its motive as pure others questions the motives behind this behavior. However, all these theories agree that altruism is a beneficial character. Imagine a world where there is no altruism, firefighting jobs would be vacant because nobody is ready to risk their lives in order to save others. In conclusion, it is only wise to deduce that no matter the motive behind these selfless acts altruism will always be beneficial to oneself as it is to the recipients.


Barber, N. (2004). Kindness in a cruel world: the evolution of altruism. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.

Harman, O. S. (2010). The price of altruism: George Price and the search for the origins of kindness. New York: W.W. Norton.

Nowak, M. A., & Highfield, R. (2011). SuperCooperators: altruism, evolution, and why we need each other to succeed. New York: Free Press.

Oakley, B. A. (2012). Pathological altruism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Post, S. G. (2003). Research on altruism & love an annotated bibliography of major studies in psychology, sociology, evolutionary biology, and theology. Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press.

Scott, N., & Seglow, J. (2007). Altruism. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.

Doris, J. M. (2010). The moral psychology handbook. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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