The Altruism Question: Toward A Social-psychological Answer (Hardback) book cover

The Altruism Question

Toward A Social-psychological Answer

By C. Daniel Batson

© 1991 – Psychology Press

268 pages

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Paperback: 9781138988767
pub: 2016-01-20
Hardback: 9780805802450
pub: 1991-07-01
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About the Book

Are our efforts to help others ever driven solely by altruistic motivation, or is our ultimate goal always some form of self- benefit (egoistic motivation)? This volume reports the development of an empirically-testable theory of altruistic motivation and a series of experiments designed to test that theory. It sets the issue of egoism versus altruism in its larger historical and philosophical context, and brings diverse experiments into a single, integrated argument. Readers will find that this book provides a solid base of information from which questions surrounding the existence of altruistic motivation can be further investigated.


"Batson has contributed an exceedingly thorough work on altruism…unusually well-researched…."


"…an excellent presentation of the body of research that Batson has pursued over the past decade….He provides a masterful critical analysis of the motivation for helpful behavior, which includes an interesting review of the early philosophical approaches to the question of altruism."

"It is clear to the reader that the author has a command of the philosophical and psychological literature related to the question of growth and development of the concept of altruism….straightforward, readable, and interesting."

"All too often the problem of whether we are egoists or altruists is addressed by introspection and a priori argumentation. Batson's ULULULULULULULUL book is an important corrective to both these mistakes. It is full of careful conceptual analysis and meticulous experiments. Students of human motivation -- whether they are philosophers, psychologists, biologists, or social scientists -- have much to learn from this important work."

Table of Contents

Contents: The Question Posed by Our Concern for Others: Altruism or Egoism? Part I: The Altruism Question in Western Thought.Egoism and Altruism in Western Philosophy. Egoism and Altruism in Early Psychology. The Altruism Question in Contemporary Psychology. Part II: Toward an Answer: The Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis.A Scientific Method for Addressing the Altruism Question. A Three- Path Model of Egoistic and Altruistic Motivation to Help: The Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis. Egoistic Alternatives to the Empathy- Altruism Hypothesis. Part III: Testing the Egoistic Alternatives to the Empathy- Altruism Hypothesis.Aversive-Arousal Reduction. Empathy- Specific Punishment. Empathy-Specific Reward. Part IV: Extensions.Other Possible Sources of Altruistic Motivation: The Altruistic Personality. Implications and Limitations of the Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Social Psychology