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date: 24 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

There is much debate about the origins of human altruism. Does altruistic behavior depend on the internalization of social norms or does it reflect a biological predisposition? What psychological processes for altruism are unique to humans and what are shared with other animals? To address these questions, the authors review evidence on the development of helping and sharing as two basic altruistic behaviors that emerge in early childhood. In addition, they summarize comparative studies with chimpanzees that aim to investigate which aspects are unique to humans versus shared with our closest evolutionary relatives. Finally, they integrate these two lines of evidence to reflect on the evolutionary and developmental processes that build the foundation of altruistic behaviors in humans. They authors argue that during childhood, human-specific socialization processes such as the internalization of norms build upon biologically evolved altruistic tendencies that we share with chimpanzees.

Keywords: comparative psychology, child development, altruism, cooperation, socialization, chimpanzee

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