Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

THE NAKED EMPEROR: SEEKING A MORE PLAUSIBLE GENETIC BASIS FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL ALTRUISM

  • C. Daniel Batson (a1)

Abstract

The adequacy of currently popular accounts of the genetic basis for psychological altruism, including inclusive fitness (kin selection), reciprocal altruism, sociality, and group selection, is questioned. Problems exist both with the evidence cited as supporting these accounts and with the relevance of the accounts to what is being explained. Based on the empathy-altruism hypothesis, a more plausible account is proposed: generalized parental nurturance. It is suggested that four evolutionary developments combined to provide a genetic basis for psychological altruism. First is the evolution in mammals of parental nurturance. Second is the evolution in humans (and possibly a few other species) of the ability to see others as sentient, intentional agents and, thereby, to recognize other's needs, even subtle ones. Third is the evolution in humans of tender, empathic emotions as an important component of parental nurturance. Fourth is the evolution in humans of cognitive capacities that make it possible to generalize tender, empathic feelings and, thereby, altruism beyond offspring.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Axelrod, R. and Hamilton, W. D. 1981. The evolution of cooperation. Science 211: 13901396.
Batson, C. D. 1987. Prosocial motivation: Is it ever truly altruistic? In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, ed. Berkowitz, L. 20, 65122. New York: Academic Press.
Batson, C. D. 1991. The Altruism Question: Toward a Social–Psychological Answer. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Batson, C. D. in press. Altruism in Humans. New York: Oxford University Press.
Batson, C. D. and Ahmad, N. 2001. Empathy-induced altruism in a Prisoner's Dilemma II: What if the target of empathy has defected? European Journal of Social Psychology 31: 2536.
Batson, C. D., Lishner, D. A., Cook, J. and Sawyer, S. 2005. Similarity and nurturance: Two possible sources of empathy for strangers. Basic and Applied Social Psychology 27: 1525.
Bell, D. C. 2001. Evolution of parental caregiving. Personality and Social Psychology Review 5: 216229.
Boehm, C. 1999. The natural selection of altruistic traits. Human Nature 10: 205252.
Brosnan, S. F. and de Waal, F. B. M. 2003. Monkeys reject unequal pay. Nature 425: 297299.
Brown, S. L. and Brown, R. M. 2006. Selective investment theory: Recasting the functional significance of close relationships. Psychological Inquiry 17: 129.
Burnstein, E., Crandall, C. and Kitayama, S. 1994. Some neo-Darwinian decision rules for altruism: Weighing cues for inclusive fitness as a function of the biological importance of the decision. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 67: 773789.
Campbell, D. T. 1975. On the conflicts between biological and social evolution and between psychology and moral tradition. American Psychologist 30: 11031126.
Caporeal, L. R., Dawes, R., Orbell, J. M. and van de Kragt, A. J. C. 1989. Selfishness examined: Cooperation in the absence of egoistic incentives. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 12: 683739.
Coke, J. S., Batson, C. D. and McDavis, K. 1978. Empathic mediation of helping: A two-stage model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 36: 752766.
Curtis, J. T. and Wang, Z. 2003. The neurochemistry of pair bonding. Current Directions in Psychological Science 12: 4953.
Damasio, A. R. 1994. Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. New York: Avon Books.
Damasio, A. R. 1999. The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company.
Damasio, A. R. 2003. Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain. Orlando, FL: Harcourt.
Darwin, C. 1871. The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. New York: Appleton.
Dawkins, R. 1976. The Selfish Gene. New York: Oxford University Press.
de Waal, F. B. M. 1996. Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Dunn, J. and Kendrick, C. 1982. Siblings: Love, Envy, and Understanding. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Essock-Vitale, S. M. and McGuire, M. T. 1980. Predictions derived from the theories of kin selection and reciprocation assessed by anthropological data. Ethology and Sociobiology 1: 233243.
Fehr, E. and Gächter, S. 2002. Altruistic punishment in humans. Nature 415: 137140.
Frank, R. H. 2003. Adaptive rationality and the moral emotions. In Handbook of Affective Sciences, ed. Davidson, R. J., Scherer, K. R. and Goldsmith, H. H., 891896. New York: Oxford University Press.
Hamilton, W. D. 1964. The genetical evolution of social behavior (I, II). Journal of Theoretical Biology 7: 152.
Harlow, H. K., Harlow, M. K., Dodsworth, R. O. and Arling, G. L. 1966. Maternal behavior of rhesus monkeys deprived of mothering and peer association in infancy. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 110: 5866.
Hoffman, M. L. 1981. Is altruism part of human nature? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 40: 121137.
Hrdy, S. B. 1999. Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection. New York: Pantheon.
Hrdy, S. B. 2009. Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Insel, T. R. 2002. Implications for the neurobiology of love. In Altruism and Altruistic Love: Science, Philosophy, and Religion in Dialogue, ed. Post, S. G., Underwood, L. G., Schloss, J. P. and Hurlbut, W. B., 254263. New York: Oxford University Press.
Kelly, R. L. 1995. The Foraging Spectrum: Diversity in Hunter-Gatherer Lifeways. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Kruger, D. J. 2003. Evolution and altruism: Combining psychological mediators with naturally selected tendencies. Evolution and Human Behavior 24: 118125.
Lishner, D. A., Oceja, L. V., Stocks, E. L. and Zaspel, K. 2008. The effect of infant-like characteristics on empathic concern for adults in need. Motivation and Emotion 32: 270277.
McDougall, W. 1908. An Introduction to Social Psychology. London: Methuen.
MacLean, P. D. 1990. The Triune Brain in Evolution: Role in Paleocerebral Functions. New York: Plenum Press.
Mayr, E. 1961. Cause and effect in biology. Science 134: 15011506.
Odendaal, J. S. J. and Meintjes, R. A. 2003. Neurophysiological correlates of affiliative behavior between humans and dogs. The Veterinary Journal 165: 296301.
Richerson, P. J. and Boyd, R. 2005. Not By Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Rushton, J. P., Russell, R. J. H. and Wells, P. A. 1984. Genetic similarity theory: Beyond kin selection. Behavior Genetics 14: 179193.
Shafir, E. and Tversky, A. 1992. Thinking through uncertainty: Nonconsequential reasoning and choice. Cognitive Psychology 24: 449474.
Shelton, M. L. and Rogers, R. W. 1981. Fear-arousing and empathy-arousing appeals to help: The pathos of persuasion. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 11: 366378.
Sober, E. and Wilson, D. S. 1998. Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Taylor, S. E. 2002. The Tending Instinct: How Nurturing is Essential to Who We Are and How We Live. New York: Time Books.
Trivers, R. L. 1971. The evolution of reciprocal altruism. The Quarterly Review of Biology 46: 3557.
Van Lange, P. A. M. 1999. The pursuit of joint outcomes and equality in outcomes: An integrative model of social value orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 77: 337349.
Wilson, D. S. and Wilson, E. O. 2007. Rethinking the theoretical foundation of sociobiology. Quarterly Review of Biology 82: 327348.
Wilson, E. O. 2005. Kin selection as the key to altruism: Its rise and fall. Social Research 72: 159166.
Zahn-Waxler, C. and Radke-Yarrow, M. 1990. The origins of empathic concern. Motivation and Emotion 14: 107130.

THE NAKED EMPEROR: SEEKING A MORE PLAUSIBLE GENETIC BASIS FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL ALTRUISM

  • C. Daniel Batson (a1)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed