The Evolution of Altruism in Humans

Posted: 9 Jan 2015

See all articles by Robert Kurzban

Robert Kurzban

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychology

Maxwell N. Burton-Chellew

University of Oxford

Stuart West

University of Oxford

Date Written: January 2015

Abstract

Humans are an intensely social species, frequently performing costly behaviors that benefit others. Efforts to solve the evolutionary puzzle of altruism have a lengthy history, and recent years have seen many important advances across a range of disciplines. Here we bring together this interdisciplinary body of research and review the main theories that have been proposed to explain human prosociality, with an emphasis on kinship, reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, punishment, and morality. We highlight recent methodological advances that are stimulating research and point to some areas that either remain controversial or merit more attention.

Suggested Citation

Kurzban, Robert and Burton-Chellew, Maxwell N. and West, Stuart, The Evolution of Altruism in Humans (January 2015). Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 66, pp. 575-599, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2547494 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010814-015355

Robert Kurzban (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychology ( email )

3720 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6196
United States

Maxwell N. Burton-Chellew

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Stuart West

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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