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date: 06 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Do we humans ever, in any degree, care about others for their sakes and not simply for our own? Psychology has long assumed that everything humans do, no matter how nice and noble, is motivated by self-interest. Research over the past four decades suggests this assumption is wrong. The empathy-altruism hypothesis claims that empathic concern produces altruistic motivation. Results of the over 35 experiments designed to test this hypothesis against various egoistic alternatives have proved remarkably supportive, leading to the tentative conclusion that feeling empathic concern for a person in need does indeed evoke altruistic motivation to see that need relieved. This chapter attempts to clarify what role the self plays in empathy-induced altruism.

Keywords: empathy, altruism, egoism, self-sacrifice, self-other merging, value extension

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