After the reading the chapter on Social Psychology there was one thing that stuck with me the most: is there such a thing as genuine altruism? First off I would like to define it as the book does, "in some cases we help others in discomfort primarily because we feel empathic towards them" (pg. 516). In the book they based the outcome of studies on this definition by saying that, "I some cases we seem to help not only to relieve our distress but to relieve the distress of others" (pg. 516). I think that this is a contradiction in itself because a person who is empathetic is one that pretty much feels what the other person is feeling which drives them to help. None of the experiments seem to control for the fact that people may be helping others not because they feel bad for the other person but because they want to stop feeling bad themselves. By the books definition I feel comfortable saying that there is no such thing as genuine altruism becasue although we may feel bad for others we will always be helping them partially to relieve guilt or our shared feelings with them. That's not saying that people aren't inherently good people. There are some who have learned that helping people will benefit them in some way but I don't think that makes the fact that they helped someone any less awesome.
Altruism: Inherent or Learned?
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