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What is altruism? The altruist has qualities that are the opposite of the egoist. On the one hand, altruism, that is, selfless help to others, gives him the possibility of fulfillment and joy, on the other - more and more often it can cause quite considerable problems. Is there pure altruism?

Who is an altruist?

Altruistaby definition does not expect applause or an order of merit. On the contrary, he often does his best to remain anonymous. If there is any, even minimal, self-interest, we can only talk about a favor. Because altruismit definitely isn't.

How do I recognize an altruist?

"Like Cuba to God, yes God to Cuba" - says the old proverb. Are you sure? According to this theory, if we give way to someone on the tram, the next time someone should vacate it for us. But is this really the case?

Psychologists keep saying that good deeds and events come full circle and come back to us like a boomerang. And it should not matter to us whether they come back the next day or in some … 20 years. Especially that if we are going to be a true altruist, flesh and blood, the fact whether our good deed will bring us any benefit should really not matter.

Is there pure altruism?

- When I see someone getting hurt, I start suffering with them almost immediately. I feel psychological and physical pain, I put myself in this person's shoes and start doing whatever I can to help them, says 33-year-old Arek, a programmer. - I don't know if it's altruism or oversensitivity, but that's what happens to me.

It does not matter if it concerns a colleague who was almost thrown down the stairs in an attack of aggression, a colleague who lost his job and apartment, or the inhabitants of Iraq. For me, every problem, every need is equal.

Arek tries to help as he can. Takes part in charity actions, supports humanitarian convoys, and organizes a chain of aid for friends and acquaintances. Putting yourself in the other person's shoes and feeling the same emotions is nothing more than empathy. And without it, there would be no altruism.

It is because of their empathetic perception of the world that altruists provide help completely selflessly, do not wonder what the help isit means to them whether it can harm them or complicate their lives. Only after the fact do they feel joy and fulfillment or regret and disappointment. Unfortunately, these negative emotions appear more and more often.

- Many people do not want someone's help, they push their hand away, reject it, sometimes even in a rude, aggressive way. It is such a natural reaction of the body, but it hurts - admits 27-year-old Marta, a volunteer, helps, among others in a social welfare center.

- To this day, I remember the expression on my face and the grimace of dislike at my friend, for whom I did a huge grocery shopping. He took it as a charity, shouted that he was not a poor man and did not need pity. In a frenzy, he threw his groceries out the window. It was a very unpleasant experience - the girl sighs.

Altruism - character traits

In addition to an appropriate approach to another person, an altruist must also have some typical character traits. Willing to help is not enough. It is also important whether the person has a positive attitude to life, can enjoy small things and treat each coming day as the most pleasant gift.

An altruist cannot be a pessimist, depressed and attracted to people with problems just to make himself feel better. It won't work that way.


According to the latest reports published in "Nature Neuroscience", our altruistic behavior is closely related to the activity of a specific part of the brain.

A team of scientists from Duke University Medical Center, using the technique of functional magnetic resonance (fMRI), showed that the basis of altruism may be the way we see the world, not the way we act.

During the examination, the brains of 45 people were scanned - some of them played a computer game, some watched the game that the computer played with itself.

The part of the brain called the superior posterior temporal furrow was more active in people supporting the computer game. The superior posterior temporal furrow is an active area in social relations.

Altruism - is altruism gender specific?

Some people say that men are more inclined to it. After all, it is them who have been told for centuries to be responsible for others and to help. Today, however, altruists are as often as gentlemen as ladies. The only difference is in the method of implementation.

While men more often decide to provide one-off physical, technical or logistic help, e.g. to get a car out of a ditch, women help more emotionally, e.g. by joining support groups, and their help is long-term and regular.

Altruism - more often in cities or in the countryside?

From researchScientific studies show that inhabitants of small towns and villages are much more inclined to altruism. There are much less altruists in the cities of altruists.

- In large crowds it is more difficult to reach out to someone without suspecting that there is some hidden interest in it. City dwellers are less trusting, and more often have to face calculation and deception. Hence their inborn caution and suspicion, which also applies to God of spirit of innocent altruists.

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