Morality and Altruism

Morality and Altruism - Morality and Altruism An...

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Morality and Altruism An evolutionary approach also has implications for thinking about morality and altruism. As indicated above, an important strand of evolutionary thinking emphasizes what one might term the individualistic/self-interested implications of evolutionary theory. Such a perspective is based on a fairly clear evolutionary logic, and much of the data in the area of morality and altruism can be interpreted in a manner that conforms to this logic. Thus Charlesworth (1995; see also Charlesworth & Dzur 1987) has shown that self-interest emerges as an important factor in a paradigm involving cooperation and competition for a limited resource. Studies conducted within the social learning paradigm have also shown a large main effect for self-interest. Self-interest is typically apparent in the baseline condition and is still apparent after the treatment (see MacDonald 1988: 242ff). Increases in helping or donating behavior are often rather small even when they involve resources of little value and even in a laboratory situation where there is often a strong "pull" for donating behavior. There is also a tendency for treatment effects to disappear over time. Further, the tendency to help other children is a function of the degree of expected reciprocity. For example, Kanfer et al (1981) found that 3-6-year-old children would not continue a dull sorting task if the recipient of the reward for doing so was anonymous. Higher levels of work occurred if the recipient as a classmate, and even higher levels if the recipient was a friend. The area of moral reasoning and its relation to behavior is also highly compatible with an
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Morality and Altruism - Morality and Altruism An...

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