Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

High-Cost Altruistic Helping

  • Hannes Rusch
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1556-1



In acts of high-cost altruistic helping, substantial risks to the own well-being or considerable losses of social and/or economic capital are voluntarily incurred in order to benefit others.


Thomas H. McCann was one of the first recipients of the Carnegie Medal for civil heroism. On June 29, 1904, McCann jumped from a bridge 25 ft high into Portland Harbor and dragged Alfonso Sekosky, an 8-year-old boy, to safety on a boat, but was too fatigued to get into it himself and was drowned. McCann’s case is quite representative: since its inception in 1904, the Carnegie Medal has been awarded to almost 10,000 “individuals in the US and Canada who risked their lives to an extraordinary degree saving or attempting to save the lives of others” (carnegiehero.org, September 2016). About 20% of the recipients of the Carnegie Medal did not survive their attempts to help others (Becker and Eagly 2004...


Prosocial Behavior Inclusive Fitness Dictator Game Reciprocal Altruism Direct Fitness 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Economics GroupUniversity of MarburgMarburgGermany
  2. 2.Peter Löscher Chair of Business EthicsTU MünchenMunichGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Minna Lyons
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK