Evolutionary Psychological Science

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 58–70 | Cite as

The Ways of Altruism

  • Gualtiero PiccininiEmail author
  • Armin W. Schulz
Research Article


We argue that some organisms are altruistically motivated and such altruistic motivation is adaptive. We lay out the helper’s decision problem—determining whether to help another organism. We point out that there are more ways of solving this problem than most people recognize. Specifically, we distinguish two kinds of altruistic motivations, depending on whether a desire to help is produced for one’s own sake or for others’ sake. We identify circumstances in which either kind of psychological altruism provides the most adaptive solution to the helper’s decision problem. As a result, we show that both kinds of psychological altruism are likely to be instantiated and selected for.


Egoism Evolution Evolutionary altruism Mechanisms Psychological altruism 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Missouri–St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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