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Evaluate two theories of altruism.

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Introduction

a) Evaluate two theories of altruism. Altruism is a type of pro-social behaviour which is to help someone but the helping person has no intention of gaining reward or socially or materially. For e.g. when a plane crashed into the Potomac River in Washington in 1982 the waters were freezing yet still two men helped by jumping in the freezing water and helping people out, with a risk to their lives. It is argued that these acts are altruistic (unselfish), or whether they are driven by egoistic motivation. There are many theories of altruistic behaviour, two of which are the natural selection theory and the kin selection theory. The natural selection theory was suggested by sociobiologists and says that altruism happens because of several years of evolution. This means that the best-adapted behaviours are more likely to survive and be passed on from generation to generation. It is suggested that egoism would be more likely to survive and be passed on because this behaviour is to be selfish and would allow the more egoistic people to survive and pass on their selfish genes rather than altruistic genes. ...read more.

Middle

It seems likely that altruism arises between our instincts, emotions culture and intellect and that further research will need to be conducted in attempt to understand the true motives of altruists. b) Outline and evaluate two biological explanations for apparent altruism in non human animals. Altruism within animals is defined as; an animal is considered to be engaging in altruistic behaviour when by doing so, it increases the survival chances of another while decreasing its own. One explanation of altruism within animals is the kin-selection explanation. As Darwin said evolution is dependant on the genetic make up of an animal and that all relatives have the same genes any altruistic behaviour which helps a relatives chances of survival or reproductive success is beneficial. This is known as inclusive fitness. Inclusive fitness contains two types: direct fitness and indirect fitness. Direct fitness is when the genes are passed on to survive through reproduction of an animals offspring and indirect fitness is said to be the survival of the genes through helping the reproductive chances of another/relative. ...read more.

Conclusion

An example of this would be of that Fischer (1980) he studied the black helmet fish which has both male and female characteristics. The fishes both fertilise and release each others eggs in reciprocal altruism. And if the favour isn't payed back then the fish cheated on would only swim away. Also by Wilkinson (1984) where he studied bats and found that if a vampire bat is removed from its roost and starved of blood then a bat from its own roost is more likely to share blood rather than another bat from another roost, also the starved bat would return this favour. This study backs up the kin selection theory as more likely than not a family member would be altruistic and the favour returned. But the reciprocal altruism theory does not account for when and is an altruistic favour is not returned. a) Evaluate two theories of altruism b) Outline and evaluate two biological explanations for apparent altruism in non human animals Habibur-Rahman Laher 72E ...read more.

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