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date: 05 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Aristotle said that humans are social animals; humans may also be described as prosocial animals. The chapter discusses prosocial tendencies as a core attribute of human psychological functioning and posits these tendencies as central to the human essence. Human prosocial behavior resides in the complex interconnections among factors affecting our prosocial lives. Penner, Dovidio, Piliavin, and Schroeder (2005) proposed a multi-level approach identifying not only types of prosocial behaviors but also the processes that motivate and regulate acts that benefit others. They structured the prosocial behavior domain hierarchically into three levels that provide mutually supportive, coherent, and comprehensive explanations for prosocial actions and a scaffolding for them that can be linked horizontally within and vertically between levels to provide an integrative “prosocial matrix.” Thus a consilience of prosociality emerges that suggests something unique about the human inclination to benefit others, supporting prosociality as an essential quality of being human.

Keywords: altruism, cooperation, empathy, evolution, kin selection, prosocial behavior, motivation, reciprocity, self-other merging, social dilemma

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