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The nature of human altruism

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Author Info

  • Ernst Fehr

    (University of Zuerich)

  • Urs Fischbacher

    (University of Zuerich)

Abstract

Some of the most fundamental questions concerning our evolutionary origins, our social relations, and the organization of society are centred around issues of altruism and selfishness. Experimental evidence indicates that human altruism is a powerful force and is unique in the animal world. However, there is much individual heterogeneity and the interaction between altruists and selfish individuals is vital to human cooperation. Depending on the environment, a minority of altruists can force a majority of selfish individuals to cooperate or, conversely, a few egoists can induce a large number of altruists to defect. Current gene-based evolutionary theories cannot explain important patterns of human altruism, pointing towards the importance of both theories of cultural evolution as well as gene–culture co-evolution.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/exp/papers/0402/0402003.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Experimental with number 0402003.

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Length: 7 pages
Date of creation: 11 Feb 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpex:0402003

Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 7
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

Related research

Keywords: altruism; selfishness; human altruism; evolution;

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