Are Humans Altruistic? Essay

1030 Words5 Pages
Altruism is defined as the principle of selflessness or devotion to the welfare of others. It is undoubtedly a quality that most aspire to have but one that is not evident in modern times. From the study of papers published by Cherry et al, Bekker, Plott, Bosch, Johnson et al and Parco et al, we can see that people are far from altruistic. In Cherry et al’s paper, they discussed how asset legitimacy and social distancing decreased altruism in people. The experiment was conducted with 52 or 61 random people split into groups of two: earning session with high and low stake and people who have to give some of their money away. In the second session, people with money were split into three treatments: baseline, earnings and double blind earnings. In “baseline”, the participants received money. In “Earnings” participants earned their money while a controller watches them allocate the money. “Double blind” is similar to the “earnings” participants except that there was no controller observing. The results showed that people bargaining over earned wealth were more selfish, keeping their earnings. This trend was more obvious in the double blind group compared to the earnings groups. This proved that asset origin and social distancing play a role in an individual’s behaviour. When an asset is being legitimised and people are distanced from any social sources, people tend to think more rationally and show less altruism. In Bekker’s paper, he tried to measure altruistic behaviour through field experiments. Bekker suggested that experimenter demands and using students are potential bias that lead to more altruism. Thus, Bekker conducted an experiment which controlled these biases. He conducted an Internet survey where participants are paid vouchers or air miles and could donate it to charity. This widened the random sample used and provided anonymity when making a
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