Altruism is the main principle that allows the social animal like us to stay in community. It is moral practice that makes us selfless.

Have you ever wondered why we do help for each other? What make us cooperative with each other? Or why the worker bee takes care of young ones, construct or protect the nest? Or why the vampire bats regurgitate blood and donate it to the fellow members who fail to feed?  It all sounds gross right? 

Okay, Let’s see why exactly this happens?

The act of being selfless or the behavior of an organism that benefits others, at a price of itself is called as Altruism. Situationally the act of altruism compromises their life with none expectations and reward reciprocally and is finished in an exceedingly very unselfish manner.  And sometimes taking actions to assist others for self-serving reasons like help in return, which is known as reciprocal altruism.

There are various examples of altruism in our daily life, for instance, giving your lunch away to a hungry person or a person who dives into a river to rescue a drowning stranger. Also, certain wild animals are capable of altruistic behavior too. For example, elephants show care and concern for new mothers who need extra help with their babies, they also help each other in distress. Another example we are able to see is that the selfless acts of the worker ants that look after their eggs by licking them to new cleaner safer chambers. And there are more examples like this.

Now, the question arises why this occurs, what persuades people to risk their own lives to save a stranger from a life-threatening accident? What inspires these acts of kindness? It seems that this is often a fairly big question. Things like this always interested scientists. philosophists and psychologists. The concept of altruism is contradictory to Darwinian survival of fittest, where animals fight for their survival and reproduction. An Altruism characteristic is an asset for group, team or community. The group with altruistic members who are ready to help each other proves to be stronger than a group with non-altruistic behavior. Hence, this characteristic has been evolved in living in the group. According to the altruism concept, in-group the selfish organism goes extinct. The Altruism is advantageous in-group and disadvantageous as an individual.

“Subversion in group’ is the major challenge before altruism principle. Subversion in-group means a selfish person who exploits altruistic members and takes their advantages and makes own benefits. Such self-centered behavior also terminates the blissfulness of the group. According to Dawkins (1976) and Maynard Smith (1964), such self-centred multiplies faster than altruist and hence overshadow the altruists.

Altruism is one aspect of what’s called charitable behaviour. Charitable behaviour refers to being generous in giving to those in need, regardless of what the motive or how the giver benefits from the action. However, all altruistic acts are charitable but not all-charitable behaviour is altruistic. We would help others for a range of reasons like for our ego, guilt, duty, or maybe rewards and such behaviour pattern is charity but not altruism.

Altruism activates reward centers within the Brain. Being sympathetic and pleasing others activates areas of the brain related to the reward system. Neurobiologists have found that the pleasure regions of the brain become more active when someone behaves altruistically and hence, the positive feelings produced by sympathetic acts reinforce altruistic behaviour. Theories have suggested that genetics also influences altruism. Kin selection is an evolutionary theory that proposes that the organisms are more likely to assist those that are blood relatives because it’ll increase the percentage of gene transmission to future generations, thus corroborating the continuation of shared genes. The more closely the individuals are related, the more likely organism is to assist.

While the definition of altruism involves doing for others without expecting anything reciprocally, there should be a cerebral motivation that’s not obvious. For instance, we would help others to alleviate our pain or because being kind to others upholds our view of ourselves as nice people.

Empathy is additionally one of all the explanations why people engage in altruistic behaviour after they feel empathy for the person in pain, a suggestion called the empathy-altruism hypothesis states that the sentiments of empathy for another person produce an altruistic motivation to extend that person’s welfare. Children also tend to become more altruistic as their sense of empathy develops.

There are possible drawbacks of altruism. It may sometimes lead an organism to neglect their health, and risk their own lives to worry for others. While acts of altruism may be done with good intentions, they do not always cause positive outcomes. It may lead people to focus their efforts on one cause while neglecting others.

Despite these potential threats, altruism is mostly a positive force within the world, and it is a skill worth developing.

References –

Shikhajyoti Baruah
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I am a Postgraduate Biotechnology Student seeking to better understand how biological activity motivates and shapes human lifestyle and their surroundings. I choosed Biotechnology because we get a wider field of knowledge and it opens us up to think differently.
I like storytelling, dancing and writing and also i love playing guitar.
I was selected in youth parliament which was held in the year of 2015.
And have also participated in Model United Nations, in one of the MUNs i was awarded with verbal mention.

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