The sociology of prosocial behavior and altruism

R. Wittek, R.H.F.P. Bekkers

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

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Prosocial behavior involves costs for the self and results in benefits for others. Altruistic acts confer benefits to others, but net costs to the self. Different types of prosocial behavior are distinguished, depending on whether it is enacted by an individual or as part of a group effort, and whether it is first order (direct contributions) or second order (sanctioning) behavior. Six theoretical approaches are outlined (evolutionary, rationalist, structural, institutional, situational, and individual differences). They explain the evolution of prosocial behavior and its variation across groups, contexts, and situations. Avenues for future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences
EditorsJ.D. Wright
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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