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Altruism versus Egoism in Human Behavior of Mixed Motives

Published on Oct 1, 2003in The American Journal of Economics and Sociology0.46
· DOI :10.1111/1536-7150.00240
Yung-An Hu1
Estimated H-index: 1
,
Day-Yang Liu1
Estimated H-index: 1
(NTUST: National Taiwan University of Science and Technology)
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Abstract
I Introduction THE MAINSTREAM of modern economic theory is built upon two crucial assumptions: first, tastes are given; second, individuals are rational, self-interested economic human beings. By and large, the paradigm of rational choice performs well much of the time, but it remains incomplete since it is often observed that people also pursue the interest of others, such as donating money to charity, volunteering to work for nonprofit organizations, voting, etc. Due to these observed instances of apparently altruistic acts, it appears that people may care not only about their own welfare, but also about the welfare of others. Therefore, an important step forward regarding specific issues in individual behavior is to incorporate more considerations of behavior, preferences, and calculations into the paradigm. As a result, a more realistic point of view involving normative features of altruism, which also appears in recent research as group interest, has been taken into account, and the explicit treatment of altruistic behavior has become increasingly important. (1) This paper presents an experiment investigating people's altruistic behavior in terms of cooperation in a monetary prisoner's dilemma game. We start in Section 1 with an introduction of the notions of altruism from the perspectives of psychology and economics. Section 2 discusses the relevance of altruism and egoism to motives of people's altruistic behavior from a more general and realistic view. Section 3 considers an alternative approach: a conception of altruism is generalized through the prisoner's dilemma game. Section 4 describes the design of our experiment and specifies the experimental findings. Section 5 offers a discussion based on those findings in the experiment. Section 6 comes to a conclusion. Reasonable Conceptions Arguments about altruism unavoidably involve human nature, and in turn unavoidably involve how the phenomenon is defined. In the psychological literature, the studies of altruism are introduced in terms of "behavioral" and "intentional" approaches (see, e.g., Krebs 1982 and Rushton 1982). (2) The former approach is mainly concerned with the control and prediction of behavior; its underlying assumption is that the grounds for differential beneficial behavior come from external appearance. By contrast, the latter approach focuses on the way in which people think the internal aspect is the basis of an individual's subjective motives or intentions. As many psychologists and philosophers have suggested, empathy, sympathy, and internalized moral values have played important roles in theories concerning altruism. It is easier to differentiate among altruistic acts from their appearances than to distinguish real altruism from refined self-interests such as reciprocity, compliance, ingratiation, and other forms of non-altruistic helping behavior. For example, helping an old man cross the street is obviously an altruistic act. It might be done with no concern for personal gain or, alternatively, in the hope of winning praise from others. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between these competing motivations, which are sophisticated internal aspects involving one's antecedent sentiment (empathy, sympathy, benevolence, etc.) and intrinsic values (social norms, moral rules, fairness, reciprocity, etc.). In the economic literature, the conception of altruism is often associated with a sense of giving. From the perspective of behavior, altruism is viewed as an act of one person providing another person with goods or services without asking for compensation. From the perspective of intention, altruism can be defined as a concern for someone else's economic bundles besides one's own. Concentrating on observed altruistic behavior in regular commercial exchanges, Kurz (1977) proposes a definition of altruism in behavioral terms--an act by one person of providing goods and services to another person without any enforceable contract to receive maximal compensation for his or her act (3)--though he claimed that there exists a subtle social mechanism to provide compensations that will ultimately make altruistic behavior individually optimal. …
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  • Citations (36)
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References26
Newest
Published on Jan 1, 2005
Marco Faravelli9
Estimated H-index: 9
(University of Milan)
We explore distributive justice and perception of fairness using survey data concerning fresher and senior students of economics and sociology. We analyse the impact of context and education on their preferences over a hypothetical distribution of resources between individuals, presenting a trade off between efficiency and equality. With context giving minimal information, economics students are less likely to favour equality; studying economics influences the preferences of the subjects, increa...
Published on Feb 1, 1999in Journal of Public Economics1.77
Axel Ockenfels34
Estimated H-index: 34
(Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg),
Joachim Weimann18
Estimated H-index: 18
(Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)
Abstract In a study of public good and solidarity experiments conducted in eastern and western Germany, we found in both games that eastern subjects behave in a significantly more selfish manner than do western subjects. Besides that we found that many qualitative results of both data sets are similar. Since our experiments were conducted in two parts of one nation, we present an unusually well controlled cross-cultural study by avoiding difficulties that usually arise in multinational settings....
Published on Jan 1, 1995
Stefano Zamagni10
Estimated H-index: 10
This title appears exactly 20 years after the publication of Altruism, Morality and Economic Theory, an important volume edited by E.S. Phelps which contains the proceeding of a conference where social scientists and philosophers met to speculate on the roles that altruism and morality play in shaping human behaviour and economic institutions within our societies. Until recently this discipline was considered of minor importance – now there is clear evidence of its growing interest.
Published on Jan 1, 1995in The American Economic Review4.10
James Andreoni48
Estimated H-index: 48
The persistence of cooperation in public-goods experiments has become an important puzzle for economists. This paper presents the first systematic attempt to separate the hypothesis that cooperation is due to kindness, altruism, or warm-glow from the hypothesis that cooperation is simply the result of errors or confusion. The experiment reveals that, on average, about half of all cooperation comes from subjects who understand free-riding but choose to cooperate out of some form of kindness. This...
Published on May 1, 1993in The Economic Journal2.93
James Andreoni48
Estimated H-index: 48
,
John H. Miller29
Estimated H-index: 29
This paper presents experiments designed to examine the sequential equilibrium reputation hypothesis in the finitely repeated prisoner's dilemma. The authors test the hypothesis by controlling the subjects' ability to build reputations and by manipulating their beliefs that their opponent is irrational or altruistic. The responses of subjects strongly support the sequential equilibrium prediction. The results also suggest an important role for 'homemade altruism,' that is, a natural tendency to ...
Published on May 1, 1993in Journal of Economic Perspectives6.45
Robert H. Frank38
Estimated H-index: 38
(Cornell University),
Thomas Gilovich52
Estimated H-index: 52
(Cornell University),
Dennis T. Regan15
Estimated H-index: 15
(Cornell University)
In this paper we investigate whether exposure to the self-interest model commonly used in economics alters the extent to which people behave in self-interested ways. First, we report the results of several empirical studies—some our own, some by others—that suggest economists behave in more self-interested ways. By itself, this evidence does not demonstrate that exposure to the self-interest model causes more self-interested behavior, since it may be that economists were simply more self-interes...
Published on May 1, 1991in Journal of Economic Perspectives6.45
John R. Carter15
Estimated H-index: 15
(College of the Holy Cross),
Michael D. Irons1
Estimated H-index: 1
(College of the Holy Cross)
Do economists behave differently from noneconomists? Some evidence suggests they do. In a well-known 1981 study in the Journal of Public Economics, Gerald Marwell and Ruth E. Ames found that free riding was significantly greater among a group of economics graduate students than among other student groups in their experiments. Marwell and Ames offered two conjectures for why economics students might in fact behave differently. First, students who are particularly concerned with economic incentive...
Published on Dec 21, 1990in Science41.04
Herbert A. Simon136
Estimated H-index: 136
Within the framework of neo-Darwinism, with its focus on fitness, it has been hard to account for altruism behavior that reduces the fitness of the altruist but increases average fitness in society. Many population biologists argue that, except for altruism to close relatives, human behavior that appears to be altruistic amounts to reciprocal altruism, behavior undertaken with an expectation of reciprocation, hence incurring no net cost to fitness. Herein is proposed a simple and robust mechanis...
Published on Jun 1, 1990in The Economic Journal2.93
James Andreoni48
Estimated H-index: 48
(UW: University of Wisconsin-Madison)
When people make donations to privately provided public goods, such as charity, there may be many factors influencing their decision other than altruism. Social pressure, guilt, sympathy, or simply a desire for a "warm glow" may all be important. This paper considers such impure altruism formally and develops a wide set of implications. In particular, this paper discusses the invariance proposition of public goods, solves for the sufficient conditions for neutrality to hold, examines the optimal...
Cited By36
Newest
Published on Feb 22, 2019in The American economist
Simon Niklas Hellmich (Bielefeld University)
Some argue that frequent confrontation with the homo economicus actor-concept motivates economists to adjust their behavior to that paradigm. Another thesis is that economists are different because the discipline attracts individuals with preferences that differ from those of noneconomists. This article discusses survey, experimental, and field evidence collected during this debate. In certain situations, there appear differences between the behavior of people trained in economics and other grou...
Published on Mar 1, 2019in Journal of Business Ethics3.80
Jayasankar Ramanathan3
Estimated H-index: 3
(Indian Institute of Management Indore),
Biswanath Swain1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Indian Institute of Management Indore)
The purpose of this paper is to explicate the idea of egoism in the context of marketing. The idea of egoism is reviewed and contextualized into a framework for interpreting different marketer types. Marketers’ potential trade-offs with consumers and competitors are examined. Four types of marketers are explicated: extremely egoistic marketer, moderately egoistic marketer, moderately altruistic marketer, and extremely altruistic marketer. The framework offered in the paper is of relevance to mar...
Published on Nov 1, 2018in Asia-Pacific Management Review
Tzu-Hsin Liu (NUTN: National University of Tainan)
Abstract Prior research on the national innovation system mostly emphasizes technological diffusion and industrial performance. The discipline of the national innovation system leads to extensive discussions of technological policy, strategic alliances, technological transfers, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, and even talent acquirements. However, little research has examined why and how the philosophical views of actors in a national innovation system (e.g. egoism, utilitarianism, and...
Published on Jan 1, 2018
Zu Beginn der systematischen Auseinandersetzung mit einer Wissenschaft ist es unbedingt erforderlich, zunachst die Abgrenzung gegenuber anderen Wissenschaftsbereichen kennen zu lernen. Wissenschaft, und damit auch die Volkswirtschaftslehre als ein Teilbereich der Sozialwissenschaft, ist ein System von Erkenntnissen und Erfahrungen der Menschheit. Es beinhaltet wesentliche Eigenschaften, kausale Zusammenhange und Gesetzmasigkeiten. Diese sind in Form von Definitionen, Theorien und Hypothesen fest...
Published on Jan 1, 2018
Amitai Etzion52
Estimated H-index: 52
(GW: George Washington University)
Over the past two decades, dozens of studies have explored the relationship between exposure to economics and antisocial behavior. With a few exceptions, these studies find that economists and economics students are more likely to exhibit a range of “debased” moral behavior and attitudes, both in the controlled environment of the laboratory and in the outside world. This chapter presents a review of this research. It draws on the various studies to address the question of whether the found diffe...
Published on Dec 31, 2017
Joanna Dzionek-Kozłowska1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of Łódź),
Sharaf N. Rehman1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of Texas at Austin)
Students of economics are often presented as less cooperative than students of other disciplines. A method commonly used to establish this difference is based on laboratory experiments where students participate in trust games. However, these games are analysed as part of microeconomics courses. Hence, drawing conclusions about how students of economics behave while playing these games may not indicate their actual behaviour. This paper contributes to the discussion on economics students’ attitu...
Published on Dec 1, 2017in Economics & Sociology
Joanna Dzionek-Kozłowska1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of Łódź),
Sharaf N. Rehman1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of Texas at Austin)
This study addressed the role of motives in organizational behavior (OCB). Organizational concern motives, prosocial values motives, and impression management motives influence individuals? OCB in banking industry in Indonesia. A survey is conducted by using questionnaires from the previous research. The samples consisted of 531 tellers. Validity and reliability tests are used to evaluate the questionnaire contents. The Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) is employed to test the relationship amon...
Published on Mar 1, 2015in Sociological Forum1.78
Amitai Etzion52
Estimated H-index: 52
(GW: George Washington University)
Over the past 2 decades, dozens of studies have explored the relationship between exposure to economics and antisocial behavior. With a few exceptions, these studies find the economists and economics students are more likely to exhibit a range of “debased” moral behavior and attitudes, both in the controlled environment of the laboratory and in the outside world. This article presents a review of these studies. It draws on the various studies to address the question of whether the found differen...
Published on Sep 1, 2014in Sosyoekonomi Journal
İbrahim Erdem Seçilmiş (Hacettepe University)
This paper examines the impact of the level of economics knowledge on the perception of equity in a Rawlsian sense when distributional issues are of concern to the students at different stages of their education. The purpose is to question the widely held belief that economics teaching has an influence on ethical views of individuals. To examine the relationship between fairness judgments and the level of the economics education, I use a survey-type experimental design, originally developed by G...