Murals (2008) by PHANTAST - Graffiti - Cultural Music & Art Association inc. - 98 Milne St. Benleigh

bloodThe Good Samaritan rescued a stranger and provided care without thought of recompense. What is the "altruistic paradox"?

 Some experts in human behavior assume that we do something because we get or expect a reward for doing so, and we do not do something because the cost of doing it would be great. This is called the reward/costs model of human behavior. Altruistic acts don't seem to fit the reward/costs model.  There is no apparent reward, and there are almost always costs: from being a few minutes late for an appointment to sacrificing one's life.

What makes an altruist? First, the brain must be normal to begin with and develop normally. There is evidence that damage to certain areas of the brain affects a person's  ability to be responsive to the feelings of others.  Second, a child must grow up in a society where compassion is valued - social norms that influence an individual's behavior. The unwritten rule that people should help somebody in trouble, seems to have greater force in close-knit segments of society, such as a group held together by religious and ethnic groups, and weaker  where there is social upheaval. Another widespread social norm is the Golden Rule - do onto others as you would have them do unto you - norm of reciprocity. Finally, parents have a key role in the making of an altruist - high moral values, and discussion about right and wrong. (ABC's of the Human Mind, Reader's Digest, 1990)

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