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Altruism in Humans$
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C. Daniel Batson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195341065

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195341065.001.0001

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The Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis

The Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis

Chapter:
(p.11) 1 The Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis
Source:
Altruism in Humans
Author(s):

C. Daniel Batson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195341065.003.0002

The empathy-altruism hypothesis states that empathic concern produces altruistic motivation. To unpack this deceptively simply hypothesis, it is necessary to know what is meant by “empathic concern,” by “altruistic motivation,” and even by “produces.” Empathic concern—other-oriented emotion elicited by and congruent with the perceived welfare of someone in need—is distinguished from seven other uses of the term empathy. Altruistic motivation—a motivational state with the ultimate goal of increasing another’s welfare—is distinguished from four other uses of the term altruism. Altruism is contrasted with egoism—a motivational state with the ultimate goal of increasing one’s own welfare. The question of why empathic concern might produce altruistic motivation is addressed by considering the information and amplification functions of emotions in general, as well as the relationship of emotion to motivation.

Keywords:   altruism, altruistic motivation, egoism, empathic concern, empathy, empathy-altruism hypothesis, information function of emotions, amplification function of emotions, ultimate goal

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