Good Example Of Essay On Evolutionary Accounts Of Altruism

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Altruism, Kinship, Hamilton, Behavior, Study, Education, Family, Volunteering

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2020/10/09

Altruistic behavior may be identified as behavior that puts an advantage over other individuals, not closely related while being obtrusively damaging to the individual doing the altruistic behavior (Trivers, 1971). Benefits and damaging effects are defined along the lines of inclusive fitness. A person, who goes into the water imposing an impending danger to save another distant relative from drowning, is a perfect illustration of altruistic behavior.
The altruistic behavior of an individual or an individual’s concern for another person’s fate increases because of genetic relatedness (Bernstein, 2005). However, according to Gintis, et. al's (2003), the recent study have explained that the manifestations of altruism in place of others have stemmed from just self-interest.
Evolutionary biologists have discovered a very influential theory on the basis of altruism between kin. Since a gene manages a specific behavior, the possibility, of it being reproduced, is higher. But also it is evidently higher not only when this gene considers not only the reproductive chances that the behavior gives to the host. The theory also focuses on the other opportunities that the behavior gives to the relatives (Stark & Wang, 2004). The pioneering scientist behind this theory is known as William Hamilton. He states “the social movements of a species develops in a way that each particular stimuli, the person will give high regards to his neighbor’s fitness neglecting his own. This is according to the coefficients surrounding a relationship that is appropriate to the situation.
It was years ago when Hamilton formed an explanation for the development of altruism within the family founded on the notion of inclusive fitness. The most famous result of Hamilton’s study was known as Hamilton’s rule (Zwick & Fletcher, 2006). Before studies from Hamilton, altruistic behaviors were impossible in the field of evolution. There exists an idea that if altruism does benefit the recipient of the action thus harming the fitness of the benefactor then how could a behavior such as altruism evolve? Hamilton then adequately expounded on this by stating that if individuals share ancestors then it is most likely believed that these individuals can share genes of various underlying traits (Burnstein, 2005).
Moving on from Hamilton’s theory, altruism also progressed through the evaluation of the degree of relatedness. Assortative pairing is mostly used as proof for the human capability to detect family resemblances. As founded on an assessment of blood components, spouses who are genetically similar than those randomly chosen couples, have the advantages of keeping resources within the family and that the risk of committing an inbreed is mostly allowable in these marriages of the distant kin (Burnsteein, 2005). It is however different when individuals choose their mate through the system of a single locus recognition. This kind of system has a very low empirical value. Burnstein further discusses that this type of system is common or general in all phenotypic similarities. That is, there is comparison of two kinds of knowledge. Namely: familiarity and Phenotypic matching. According to Burnstein, familiarity exists when two persons have an increased frequency of interaction then the more it is that the person’s liking also increases. This fact enables familiarity to increase the degree of genetic relatedness that exists between two organisms; thus enhancing chances for the spread of a specific gene. Phenotypic matching on the other hand, compare each other’s trait with a memory of what mostly resembles closely that of their trait. This fact is consistent with the concept that the facial resemblance means a high probability of kinship; hence the increase in possible acts of altruism between the individuals. It is however important to reiterate that these systems have a lower empirical value as compared to the other accounts of altruism (Burnstein, 2005).
Aside from the degree of genetic relatedness, altruism may also be found in the accounts of reciprocity. As proof of the development of altruism, Killingback and Doebeli (2002), have found out from their study of the prisoner’s dilemma that pay-off based strategies for the reiterated incessant prisoner’s dilemma gave a usual background for the analysis of the evolution of cooperation through reciprocal altruism. This study was formed through the use of evolutionary simulations. Also according to Andreoni, Harbaugh and Vesterlund (2007), there have been numerous studies using the Prisoner’s Dilemma games in different literatures. All of these studies as stated by Andreoni, Harbaugh and Vesterlund (2007), were created to explore the incessant and stubborn nature of cooperation. They have found out that cooperation is truly robust and is caused mainly by altruism.
According to Wilkinson (1988), the frequency of altruism in this group of animals is supposed to increase as the size of the group also increases. This fact is however under the circumstances that the probable cost to the donor is minimal and that the product and acquired resources are enough to share. Denault & McFarlane (1995), also share the same conclusion among fruit bats but have focused more on the male vampire bats. Their results revealed that social interactions among socially adapted adult vampire bats participate in the reciprocal altruistic manner of food sharing.
Almost possibly, the largest number of studies of kin altruism concentrate on the contributions of the genetic relatedness of individuals when distributing resources (Burnstein, 2005). It is common knowledge that when estates are divided into North America and when tribes in South America give free labor it is evident that a larger piece goes to the closest relatives. This notion largely supports Hamilton’s model of altruistic behavior. It is, for this reason, conclusive that these field studies provide convincing evidence to support Hamilton’s theory and it is also important that they show that their computational proposals are valid ecologically. However, these field studies do not share interesting control groups and randomly assigning participants are impossible. It is, for this reason, necessary to conduct the experimental analysis of sufficient evidence in proving Hamilton’s model (Burnstein, 2005).
It is rather fortunate that social psychologists have taken a liking in the ability of different individuals to evaluate which among the group can help the most or whether an individual is interested in carrying the consequences. Results have shown that humans are experts in giving ranks to one another. These ranks are according to a person’s ability to give benefits to the group and the willingness of a person to do a task (Burnstein, 2005).
Supporting the above notion, we can also consider gender within the kinship as part of the ranking. In a study conducted by Burnstein (1994; 2005), it was found that a possibility of receiving help greatly increased with the genetic relations. The researchers also found that the female members of the family were more likely chosen to be helped over their male counterparts. This result was evident from both sexes. A popular premise, to explain this effect, is the norm of helping damsels in distress. Conversely, the male respondents of the group favored the female respondent because of their reproductive worth, and the female respondents gave more weight to the possibility of gaining cooperation from the beneficiary. These possibilities of cooperation were evident with the fact that women were also most likely to cooperate more with men (Burnstein, 2005).
In a light of the reproductive worth, it is assumed that around the age of 45, the level of age closest to experiencing menopause, the favor for these women decreases. On the other hand, putting aside all factors of sex, the young individuals, and the old individuals are known to be mostly weak in the terms of diseases, accidents and abuses. The old also have less reproductive worth same as the young persons not until at least they reach puberty. According to the concept of individual fitness, when the advantages of altruism are critical, the old members of the kin are least possibly to receive help. Since, the younger members depending on the onset of their puberty is reasonably likely to receive help (Burnstein, 2005). When there are no benefits of altruism, these effects must get weaker. The effect is estimated to root from knowledge that deny helping endangers a person’s status. This effect most specifically applies when the helping is cheap, and the benefits are susceptible. For this reason, by choosing to help the younger members of the kin or, the older members generosity and the resources are promoted.
When trying to evaluate the contributions to the fitness of the family, the wealth and health must also be considered. It would be important to note that health can not be transferred not like wealth. A person now is subjected to think strategically when these relatives vary in wealth than when they would differ in health. The more hypothesis, for this reason, is that health operates like age with better health equaling to the least susceptible member of the kin and poor health equaling to the most vulnerable member of the kin. In the case of varying wealth, however, individuals should insinuate themselves with the wealthier members of the kin. This situation is an example of self-interest that is preferred over the kin altruism; by preferring to aid them over the poorer relatives. Simultaneously, according to Hamilton, the closer kin are more inclined to share assets than the distant members of the kin, not unless they specifically prefer or are obliged to the beneficiary. Burnstein (2005) found sufficient evidence to support these results. In life or death situations, altruists tend to identify in favor of the healthier members of the family. This event happens at the cost of those in poor health, but if it is an everyday errand, these altruists will do the opposite. They would in turn choose those in poorer health over those in better health. However, given the varying levels of wealth, when the aid is a situation of life or death, altruists do not identify between the rich and the poorer close kin. However, they do identify between the richer and poorer distant kin; that is the case, where the richer siblings are aided as equally often as poor siblings. However, the richer members of the family are helped more often than, the poorer members of the family. However, if the advantages are trivial, the status again looks to come into consideration with the aid increasing as the beneficiary’s wealth decreases. Not only do altruists choose to do daily favors for brethren over their cousins, but also in life or death instances. These events cause altruists to choose to do the favor for poorer siblings and cousins rather than for the richer ones (Burnstein, 2005).
As different studies such as the prisoner’s dilemma games and the studies on vampire bats suggest, it is for this reason revealed that the altruistic behaviors must develop. To the extent that the expenditures to the altruist are far less than the advantages that it gives to the beneficiaries. This formula is greatly supported by experimental and ethnographic research. Both of the methods of research are reliably showing that individuals are more possibly to sacrifice for the closer kin than for the distant relatives and are less possibly to do so for unrelated members of the family. To conclude, it is, believed that individuals mostly identify not only the relatedness degree of the person, but also the benefits and the liabilities that go along when acting with altruism. It is rather ambiguous on how individuals can quantify the connectivity of the advantages of the situation to the relatedness of the members. Whatever suggested method it is to assess the risks involved in this act, it is important to consider the reproductive worth of the members of the family as shown in their resources, age or health.


Andreoni, J., Harbaugh, W., & Vesterlund, L. (2007). Altruism in Experiments. New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, (2).
Bernstein, E. (2005). Altruism and genetic relatedness. In D. M. Buss (Ed.), The handbook of evolutionary psychology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Dawkins, R. (1979). Twelve misunderstandings of kin selection.
Gintis, H., Bowles, S., Boyd, R., & Fehr, E. (2003). Explaining altruistic behavior in humans. Evolution and Human Behavior, 24, 153-172. doi:10.1016/S1090-5138(02)00157-5
Hamilton, W. D. (1963). The Evolution of Altruistic Behavior. American Naturalist,97(896), 354-356. doi:10.1086/497114
Hamilton, W. D. (1964). The genetical evolution of social behaviour. I. Journal of Theoretical Biology. doi:10.1016/0022-5193(64)90038-4
Killingback, T., & Doebeli, M. (2002). The Continuous Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Evolution of Cooperation through Reciprocal Altruism with Variable Investment.American Naturalist, 160(4). doi:10.1086/342070
Stark, O., & Wang, Y. (2004). On the evolutionary edge of altruism: a game-theoretic proof of Hamilton’s rule for a simple case of siblings. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 14, 37-42. doi:10.1007/s00191-003-0168-6
Trivers, R. L. (1971). The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism. Quarterly Review of Biology, 46(1), 35-57. doi:10.1086/406755
Voland, E. (2014). Parent-offspring conflict, the extended phenotype, and the evolution of conscience. Anthropological Review, 77(3), 251-271. doi:10.2478/anre-2014-0020
Waibel, M., Floreano, D., & Keller, L. (2011). A quantitative test of hamilton's rule for the evolution of altruism. PLOS Biology, 9(5). doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000615
Wilkinson, G. S. (1988). Reciprocal altruism in bats and other mammals. Ethology and Sociobiology, 9, 85-100. doi:10.1016/0162-3095(88)90015-5
Zwick, M., & Fletcher, J. (2006). Unifying the Theories of Inclusive Fitness and Reciprocal Altruism. American Naturalist, 168(2), 252-260. doi:10.1086/506529

Cite this page
Choose cite format:
  • APA
  • MLA
  • Harvard
  • Vancouver
  • Chicago
  • ASA
  • IEEE
  • AMA
WePapers. (2020, October, 09) Good Example Of Essay On Evolutionary Accounts Of Altruism. Retrieved August 13, 2022, from
"Good Example Of Essay On Evolutionary Accounts Of Altruism." WePapers, 09 Oct. 2020, Accessed 13 August 2022.
WePapers. 2020. Good Example Of Essay On Evolutionary Accounts Of Altruism., viewed August 13 2022, <>
WePapers. Good Example Of Essay On Evolutionary Accounts Of Altruism. [Internet]. October 2020. [Accessed August 13, 2022]. Available from:
"Good Example Of Essay On Evolutionary Accounts Of Altruism." WePapers, Oct 09, 2020. Accessed August 13, 2022.
WePapers. 2020. "Good Example Of Essay On Evolutionary Accounts Of Altruism." Free Essay Examples - Retrieved August 13, 2022. (
"Good Example Of Essay On Evolutionary Accounts Of Altruism," Free Essay Examples -, 09-Oct-2020. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 13-Aug-2022].
Good Example Of Essay On Evolutionary Accounts Of Altruism. Free Essay Examples - Published Oct 09, 2020. Accessed August 13, 2022.

Share with friends using:

Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.

If you need an original paper created exclusively for you, hire one of our brilliant writers!

Related Premium Essays
Contact us
Chat now