What is Altruism types Positive effects characterization importance

What is altruism and why is it important?

Altruism is a personality trait that only belongs to those who are capable of living their own lives while helping and caring for others around them.

According to the Michaelis dictionary, altruism is the antonym of selfishness and means spontaneous love for others; abnegation, philanthropy and proximism. An altruistic individual knows and practices some values, such as humanity, solidarity, respect for others, among many others, which are essential for us to live and coexist with each other in harmony.

An altruistic person has an inclination to do good to others, always thinking of the same before himself. This personality trait only belongs to those who are capable of living their own lives while helping and caring for others around them.

The first record of the term altruism is by Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier Comte, a French philosopher who collaborated with the construction of sociology and positivism thoughts. In 1830, he identified that a certain group of personal or individual attitudes that make human beings dedicate themselves to others is called altruism. He also declared that being altruistic is a personal trait and that it does not necessarily have to do with the divine or the supernatural. That is: altruism can arise naturally in humans.

What makes us altruistic?

Neurological, cultural, and other factors can make some people more altruistic than others. In the so-called “extreme altruists”, it was found that the size of the cerebral tonsils and the responsiveness to distress signals seem to differ from average individuals.

In some cases, acts of altruism lead people to risk their own health and well-being to help others. These behaviors are often performed altruistically and without any expectation of reward. Other instances, known as reciprocal altruism, involve actions to help others with the expectation that others will offer help in return.

Types of altruism

genetic altruism

As its name suggests, this type of altruism involves engaging in altruistic acts that benefit close family members. For example, parents and other family members often engage in sacrificial acts to meet the needs of family members.

reciprocal altruism

This type of altruism is based on a mutual give and take relationship. It involves helping someone else now, because they might one day be able to return the favor.

Altruism selected by the group

This type of altruism involves engaging in altruistic acts towards people based on their group affiliation. Rather than helping their children or other genetically related individuals, people may direct their efforts to helping others or supporting social causes that benefit their social group.

pure altruism

Also known as moral altruism, this form of altruism consists of helping other people, even in risky situations, without the expectation of receiving any reward. Pure altruism is motivated by internalized values ​​and morals.

Positive effects of altruism 

better health

Research reveals that altruistic behavior can improve physical health in several ways. People who volunteer have been found to have better overall health, and regular engagement in helping behaviors is associated with a significantly lower risk of death.

Better mental well-being

Doing nice things for other people can make you feel good about yourself and the world. Studies have found that people experience greater happiness after doing nice things for other people.

best romantic relationships

Being kind and compassionate can also lead to a better relationship with your partner. Researchers have found kindness to be one of the most important qualities people of all cultures look for in a romantic partner.

In addition to these benefits, altruism can also help improve social connections and relationships, which can ultimately contribute to improved health and well-being. So when you have the opportunity to be selfless, don’t let it slip away. Helping others is also a way to do good for yourself.

The characterization of altruism

In a world where individuals think only of themselves, of satisfying their own needs, their own desires, loving your neighbor and dedicating time to him, giving a little of yourself to make him feel better, is an attitude of extreme revolution.

When we are talking about altruism, we are talking about people whose main competence is the ability to take actions thinking about the well-being of the people around them, even if this means that they have to cancel themselves out and sacrifice their own desires and interests.

According to Comte, there are three categories of altruism:


It corresponds to the bond that a human being can have with another;


The term refers to the admiration weaker people have for stronger people. Or what the younger ones have with the older ones;


The concept determines that this is the feeling that stronger people have towards weaker people. Or even that those who are older have in relation to those who are younger.

Why and how to be selfless?

There are many benefits that altruism generates in people’s lives, both in the altruistic person and in those who live with him. Check out some of them:

  • Personal happiness and well-being;
  • Encourages social well-being;
  • It generates more love, respect and harmony;
  • Improves relationships;
  • A lighter life;
  • Increases life expectancy;
  • The whole world wins;

But how to become an altruistic person? There are some attitudes that you can exercise daily, such as:

  • Develop empathy;
  • Listen in essence;
  • Genuinely help;
  • Be happy with the happiness of the other;
  • Take life more peacefully;
  • Open your eyes to the problems of the world;
  • Be more supportive;
  • Be kind and generous, without having to tell anyone;
  • Don’t judge;
  • Always look for new ways to help;

Altruism in organizations

Altruism in the exercise of leadership has an important impact at the organizational level. Doing for others, wishing the best for everyone on the team, is what ensures trust among the employees who make up this team.

When we notice a leader taking risks for the greater good of his collaborators, regardless of the numbers, defending the interests of the whole and not just personal ones, admitting mistakes and offering the team opportunities for development, we feel that we are safe. It is this confidence that we need in order to do the same for others, with the certainty that they would do the same for us. 

Organizations that encourage and promote altruism offer their consumers more than products or services, but an experience. Because when they consume something, they do so with the awareness that, in some way, they are contributing to a greater good. 

Coaching and altruism

Altruism is a skill that can be learned, trained. It is with this awareness that we must face the overcoming of the origin of selfishness in our evolution on earth. It will be necessary to work on self-development and this is work that demands effort. Otherwise we will remain selfish, under the control of the ego, trapped in needs that will never be fully satisfied.

Controlling selfishness is a point that needs to be worked on, especially in people who aspire to be more altruistic in their daily lives. In this way, Coaching becomes an excellent way to support and help the individual to improve their attitude towards others. That’s because, for many people, it’s automatic to think of yourself first before trying to understand what the other’s problem is and how you can help.

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