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Altruism in Its Personal, Social, and Cultural Contexts: An Introduction

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Altruism in Cross-Cultural Perspective

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

Abstract

Altruism is a complex, multifaceted concept that is difficult to define and challenging to investigate. At its core, it refers to intrinsically motivated action for the benefit of other human beings. Proponents of universal egoism attempt to reduce altruism to a surface manifestation of more fundamental, self-gratifying motives. Research over the last several decades has resulted in a partial paradigm shift toward the conclusion that altruism cannot be reduced to egotistic sources and that its roots are deeply embedded in human nature. A variety of research methods have been developed and are being vigorously pursued. They range from studies of altruistic behavior in social psychology experiments to naturalistic field and biographical approaches, sometimes supplemented by psychometric methods. Researchers have studied in exceptional situations as well as in daily lives and have introduced innovative approaches for its exploration. Several sources of altruistic motivation and conduct have emerged, ranging from biological to sociocultural. Yet a great many questions remain to be answered by multimethod and interdisciplinary inquiry before the biological, psychological, and cultural threads are integrated into a scientifically based understanding of human potential for altruism in its manifold modes of expression.

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Correspondence to Juris G. Draguns .

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Draguns, J.G. (2013). Altruism in Its Personal, Social, and Cultural Contexts: An Introduction. In: Vakoch, D. (eds) Altruism in Cross-Cultural Perspective. International and Cultural Psychology. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6952-0_1

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