Altruism in Cross-Cultural Perspective

  • Douglas A. Vakoch

Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Sandi W. Smith, Maria Knight Lapinski, Mary J. Bresnahan, Stacy L. Smith
    Pages 17-29
  3. Yueh-Ting Lee, Wenting Chen, Sydney Xinni Chan
    Pages 85-100
  4. Garry Chick
    Pages 139-149
  5. Lewis Aptekar
    Pages 151-157
  6. Stephen G. Post, Matthew T. Lee
    Pages 159-163
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 165-180

About this book


Doing for others--altruism--is arguably one of the most human of our activities. Arguable too are the origins of altruism: biology, psychology, culture, all of the above? Researchers have been exploring all three in intriguing lines of inquiry. But as the world grows smaller, culture grows as a major dimension in how, and why, people help others.

The contributors to Altruism in Cross-Cultural Perspective employ a wealth of methods to examine selfless acts on a global scale. Extensive discussions help to define this elusive concept, in some cases expanding it to include empathy, cooperation, generosity, and Eastern and Western spirituality. Considerations of gender, urban/rural life, family relationships, and other key variables are included, as are relevant findings from evolutionary psychology and neuroscience. And inroads are made in answering such longstanding questions as why altruistic acts in one culture may not be perceived as such in others, and the costs of altruism to those who give. Among the topics featured: 

  • Cultural values and volunteering: A cross-cultural perspective.
  • Embracing the biosphere: Altruism in Indian religions.
  • Cultural variations: Traditional parental manipulation and ancestor-descendant conflict.
  • Do we really like the kind girls and animals?: Altruism in folktales.
  • Daoism and altruism: A China-USA perspective.
  • Mesoamerican religious festivals: Altruism in human ritual.
  • To give or not to give?: Confessions of a humanitarian aid worker.

Altruism in Cross-Cultural Perspective is timely reading for cross-cultural scholars and researchers of altruism and other pro-social behavior. Researchers from various disciplines will be especially interested in the book, including psychology, anthropology, sociology, biology, communication, philosophy, religious studies, gender studies, and bioethics.


Altruism across Social Groups Altruism in human ritual Altruism in religion Altruism in ritual Altruistic Behavior Altruistic Behavior Coding Scheme Cross-Cultural Research Cross-cultural research on altruism Daosit Altruism Dualistic Cosmogonies Genesis and Evolution of Altruistic Motifs Human Altruism Indian perspectives on selflessness National Altruism Study Spiritual Altruism Wateristic Personality altruistic stories cross-cultural commonalities oral narratives

Editors and affiliations

  • Douglas A. Vakoch
    • 1
  1. 1.California Institute of Integral StudiesSETI Institute, Center for SETI ResearchMountain ViewUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013
  • Publisher Name Springer, New York, NY
  • eBook Packages Behavioral Science
  • Print ISBN 978-1-4614-6951-3
  • Online ISBN 978-1-4614-6952-0
  • Series Print ISSN 1574-0455
  • Buy this book on publisher's site