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An Analysis of Altruism Between Evolutionary Biology and Social Psychology
AuthorMcMahon, Martin E.
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Altruism is an important topic to both social psychologists, and evolutionary biologists, though both disciplines will define altruism differently. For social psychology, altruism is an interaction between individuals, where individuals exhibit self-sacrifice for other individuals (MacDonald & She, 2015). Evolutionary biology defines altruism with respect to the individual’s interaction with its environment, where each individual will exhibit self-sacrifice for the sake of the community’s collective fitness as a whole (Earnshaw, 2014). Noting these two different definitions for altruism, this paper intends to critically analyze both the differences, and similarities of altruism through a variety of studied observing altruism between groups and individuals, and between human beings and other animals of the animal kingdom. Two studies cited in this paper, “Altruism Among Relatives And Non-Relatives” by Dr. Howard Rachlin, and Dr. Bryan Jones, and “Group selection and contextual analysis” by Dr. Eugene Earnshaw, use altruism differently for the sake of their tested hypothesis. For this paper, these two articles will be analyzed for their point of view with respect to altruism both for the individual, and for the community the individual would belong to. Utilizing other articles, testing a variety of hypothesis which all utilize altruism to some degree, this paper analyzes the physiological basis of altruism as well as how altruism acts as a positive density dependent trait to persist in a community. Altruism is also analyzed with respect to the individual interaction one would find between two individuals in a community, looking at the benefits one might acquire from exhibiting altruistic behavior. Finally, both definitions are brought together to note both the definitions and similarities between the two disciplines, ideally to eliminate any discrepancies that might exist between the two disciplines to promote collaboration.