​What Is Altruistic Behavior?

​When you place the welfare of someone else equal to or above that of your own and thus act, such selfless attitudes are referred to as altruistic.


German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's research on self-motivation contributed towards establishing the theory that humans are highly self-interested, and the vast majority of their actions are being motivated by personal benefit or the protection of one's values. Considering ourselves as evolutionarily developed beings, humankind should demonstrate the relationship model not capable of animals, whereas the animals altruistic acts occur from time immemorial. To help clear up the confusion, English naturalist Charles Darwin comes to our rescue. Once, he noted that the sympathy and the ability to act in the interests of other members of society is an important part of the social instincts of people. The contemporary methods of brain research helped to confirm the assertion of Darwin. Diagrams indicated that moments of selfless behavior in humans activating the same parts of the brain that are at the top of their performance when we get pleasure (such as engaging in heartfelt conversation or having ice cream). Why, then, has altruism not become a panacea or the best replacement for other pleasures? Like in other evolutionary processes, altruism requires action and urges to expand its potential in exactly the same way we build muscle by exercising daily.

As a biological principle associated with the continuation of our own kind, the capacity of selfless concern for the welfare of others abide at the genetic level. There are not so many situations around when you need to jump into the fire to rescue a man, or block the way to some criminal, threatening the child. In most cases, our habitat does not dictate such a behavior. If crisis does not persuade our everyday routine, we tend to feed other genes with an "all the best for me" mentality. Studies in countries with regressive living standards have shown that the population is much more inclined to help each other, even if the person who was being assisted is a little richer then the one who had given him a hand. In the US, people working in factories and enterprises of continuous-conveyor type are the most generous level of society in comparison to employees of other professions and industries.

The conditions of life, where every now and then the need is looming large, use to demonstrate an example of self-giving and are the most favorable for the development of altruism. Observations in different times and places pointed out this psychological quality being similar for people of different nationalities. Despite the variations in wording, it has a characteristic that shows the breadth of the heart. Children who have not yet learned to speak, reveal this quality while giving a candy or a toy to another child, or to an adult whom they have no relationships with. In the later years of a child's development the intellectual mind begins to dominate and in its priority list heart's latitude is nowhere to be found. Once more altruism wins back positions when a person is approaching old age. Elderly people are more inclined to be altruistic and use to give donations of bigger value than those of young people who have the same level of income. As for women, compared to men, they are more likely to trust the heart, and the largest number of altruists can be found in their midst.

Examples of Human Altruism

Elderly people, children, and women are the segments of society most commonly associated with altruism, thanks to generally innate and well-manifested personal characteristics. Though, the other categories of altruists are also not uncommon. It is enough to observe for a few times that when you offer a gift, you get the joy far exceeding then if taking a gift from another person. In addition to material things, men strives to offer to others his care and concern, a help to cope with the problem, even in damage to his own advantage. In this way, "acquired altruism develops", which, to put it in other words, means an advancement towards a higher type of character being brought up in which person's own happiness will depend on how much joy you gave to others. The generosity of this kind allows the one to see the bright side of other people, and become grateful that he had the opportunity to be of service to them. Altruistic people have the tendency of appearing in places with a high demand for their skills. The man coming out of alcohol or drug addiction would have a strong predisposition to inspire others follow his example. This helps the volunteer to keep himself away from his past addiction.

Mutual Benefits

A considerable number of altruistic people find means to be useful in hospitals, especially in children's units, where they get the opportunity to delight young citizens with comic performances, joint creative workshop or gifts. Children or adults, who have temporarily lost their abilities and are unable to freely move around, will often feel so much relief from an outpouring of the attention and care that comes in exactly the same way as those who offered them joy. This is a cross-benefit and often, after becoming fully recovered, a former patient himself becoming a volunteer or gets a higher receptivity to endure in selfless deeds. The most important infrastructural hospitals in developed countries are normally provided with all necessary medications and equipment, but what is always a missing link are those fun and enthusiastic guys ready to give joy, asking nothing in return and giving encouragement for rapid recovery.

Secular and Religious Perspectives

Most religions preaching compassion for one's neighbor and inspire offering welfare to other fellow of the community in a way that it should be no less than the man wishes for himself. This being explained that the other person is an equal representative of the Supreme, and the same child to the Creator as the believer himself. By helping around believer is serving the Creator embodied in humanity. Following this path, believer increases the altruistic qualities and can move much further in this procurement than the one who acts altruistically from time to time. But altruism is not limited to any religion, and by its nature is more a manifestation of heart qualities. If an individual sees that his happiness can be multiplied by how much he has given out, then it is likely that such a person will start to ignore the value of enrichment or personal benefit. Although this approach to material carries some resemblance to the theology, there is no direct connection.

Altruism in Biology

If we consider altruism as a model of behavior of humans and animals societies alike, one difference is still evident. In modulating of biological community an example of altruism is when one individual performance is not leading to his personal benefit, but rather brings welfare to all other members of a particular community. In the example of simplest microorganisms the protection mechanism gets alert with the appearance of virus, and one healthy particle start to act as a protection for the whole organism. The particle invariably dies, and thereby postpone the term promotion of infection. Some rodent species observed in such behavior too. Seeing a predator getting ready to attack one member of rodents' family starts making harsh sounds, distracting the predator. At the same time the remaining fellows of the family get time to hide. It is known that one of the species of the meerkats, living in burrows, as a species have sustained their existence much longer in comparison to similar in the group of mammals. However, the gray mouse, not seen so much in the altruistic inclinations, has got yet a superior longevity. If the animals are prone to self-sacrifice only at the approach of danger, people will not necessarily cause a critical situation to manifest their generosity.

The followers of altruism, no matter how diverse may seem such multinational community, are sharing the understanding that by helping, altruistic person puts himself on a step higher than the one whom he assisted. The appearance of a of superiority feeling steals happiness, so altruists often choose the term "serve" instead of "help". People always tend to increase the level of happiness, so much because they know they can do it consciously. No need to look for crisis, when the question of life and death stays imminent. Each year volunteers adds to its ranks, many new members begin with the motto of "better do for nothing than to sit for nothing", but having worked in the refugee camps, in service of rescue stray animals, or in the department of assistance to national minorities, many volunteers get a fresh taste of this craft and consciously looking for a new area, where they can apply their skills of servitude.

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