Definitions of Altruistic

Altruistic is an adjective that defines a person who practices altruism, that is, who dedicates himself to others without expecting anything in return.

Altruistic is an attitude, a behavior that decreases vulnerabilities and increases the chances of survival for others even if that means reducing their own well-being.

Altruistic people are also defined as individuals capable of using both the head and the heart in their actions.

The altruistic act is reflected, for example, in helping behaviors to colleagues who are in danger, in a personal sacrifice for the benefit of others and in the concern or selfless attention of the other or the others.

Some research shows that altruism appears in humans when they turn 18 months, as in the chimpanzee; suggesting that human beings have a natural tendency to help others.

Despite this, it should be noted that some philosophers such as John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) argued that the human being is not naturally altruistic, but needs to be educated to become one.

The altruistic term comes from the old French altrui , which means from the others.

Altruist is synonymous with philanthropist and solidarity. The altruistic antonym is selfish and self-centered.


The term altruism was created in 1851 by the French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798-1857) to designate a solidary attitude that opposes selfishness, the latter term being defined as a person who always thinks first of his own interests and never of those of the others.

In this context, love of neighbor approached by Christianity may be synonymous with altruism, although it is not based on the supernatural.

Altruistic acts

In social psychology, the emergence of altruistic behaviors in society is studied by associating it with already defined variables in order to include this value in the creation of projects that increase social well-being.

In general, the types of altruistic acts can be classified into:

  • Give away objects: giving things to the needy,
  • Share goods: involving time, compassion and comfort,
  • Rescue from danger: taking risks and providing protection and defense,
  • Help: donating time, effort and attention.

Altruistic love

Altruistic love that, despite being redundant because altruism is necessarily love and love is necessarily altruistic, is used to reinforce both terms because despite being interlinked they are different concepts.

In this sense, love is a feeling and altruism is a value that derives from love.

Altruistic economy

The altruistic economy is a concept created by the Economics and Business schools to point out the need for a social rethinking of the economy.

It takes the foundations of the same neoclassical model but affirms that well-being is not independent of others and that we are not all identical. In this way, altruism is transformed into a variable that must be taken into account in social programs.

Altruistic animal

Altruism is not a unique characteristic of the human being, it can also be found in animals, especially in the most evolved.

In ethology and evolutionary biology, it has been observed in birds (crows, for example) and altruistic mammals.

An example of an altruistic animal is the dolphin, which helps an injured partner to stay afloat, and feeds and protects it from predator attacks (such as sharks).