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EmpathyFrom Bench to Bedside$
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Jean Decety

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262016612

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262016612.001.0001

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The Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis: Issues and Implications

The Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis: Issues and Implications

(p.40) (p.41) 3 The Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis: Issues and Implications

C. Daniel Batson

The MIT Press

This chapter focuses on the empathy–altruism hypothesis, a study which claims that altruistic motivation is the result of empathic concern. It presents the egoism–altruism debate, which led to the revelation that empathy is the most likely altruistic motivation source, as well as four principles which help in testing the hypothesis. Experiments conducted to figure out the variables that differentiate altruistic and egoistic motives for helping are presented. The empathic concern of human beings is not restricted to their children, and it can also include nonhumans. The factors responsible for this capacity of empathic concern in human beings include human cognitive capacity and parental nurturance. The implications of the hypothesis are presented, including long-term welfare and improvement in racial attitudes.

Keywords:   empathy–altruism hypothesis, altruistic motivation, egoism, empathic concern, racial attitudes, long-term welfare

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