Empathy-induced altruism: A threat to the collective good

Altruism and Prosocial Behavior in Groups

ISBN: 978-1-84855-572-3, eISBN: 978-1-84855-573-0

ISSN: 0882-6145

Publication date: 23 September 2009


Research supporting the empathy–altruism hypothesis suggests that the value assumption of the theory of rational choice is wrong. Apparently, humans can value more than their own welfare. Empathic concern felt for someone in need can produce altruistic motivation with the ultimate goal of increasing that person's welfare. But this altruistic motivation is not always good. Research also reveals that empathy-induced altruism can pose a threat to the collective good in social dilemmas. Indeed, in certain non-trivial circumstances, it can pose a more powerful threat than does self-interested egoism.


Batson, C. and Ahmad, N. (2009), "Empathy-induced altruism: A threat to the collective good", Thye, S. and Lawler, E. (Ed.) Altruism and Prosocial Behavior in Groups (Advances in Group Processes, Vol. 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0882-6145(2009)0000026004

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