What Is Altruism | What Are Examples of Altruism?

What is altruism?

We explain what altruism is, the origin of the term and what altruistic people are like. Also, what is biological altruism?


Altruism is the willingness of some people to do good to others, even at the cost of their own well-being.

Simple definition of altruism.
What is the simple definition of altruism?

That is, we call an altruist someone who cares enough to help others selflessly, regardless of the fact that he or she sacrifices himself or herself in the process. Heroes, martyrs, and good Samaritans are usually people from whom we expect altruistic behavior.

Tendency to Help Others in a Selfless Way

The word as such comes from the French altruisme, derived from the word autrui. Originally, the term refers to the Latin word alter, meaning other people or somebody else.

The term altruism was created in the 19th century by the French philosopher Auguste Comte to define a type of behavior opposed to egoism.

People who act altruistically do so selflessly, not for personal gain, but for the benefit of others.

An altruistic person, in this sense, is someone who thinks of others before he thinks of himself. It is someone who helps those in need without expecting anything in return.

The benefits of altruism.
The benefits of altruism.

For example, it is an act of altruism to donate a portion of prize money to social foundations.

Altruism is a very important value in society because it is based on solidarity and empathy with others.

Religions such as Christianity consider altruism to be a cornerstone of their faith. An example of this is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to save humanity, as described in the Bible.

Synonyms for altruism are:

  • Solidarity
  • Philanthropy
  • Generosity
  • and sacrifice

The antonyms are selfishness and individualism.

Altruism in Biology

In biology, altruism is a pattern of behavior in which an organism is capable of putting its own life at risk to benefit, help or protect another individual of the group.

Altruism is observable among animals belonging to the same herd. Altruism can also occur between individuals of the same species or between different species.

As such, altruism is studied in ethology, which is the branch of biology that analyzes the behavior of animals.

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