The development of capacity as a function of object relations development and vicissitudes

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The aim of this chapter is to explore the potential contribution of significant others to altruism in the course of development. Examination of definitions of altruism demonstrates a feature common to most of them, namely, a reference to an interpersonal event, taking place between an actor and another person. For example: Altruism “refers to a regard for the interest of others without concern for one’s self-interest” (Wispé, 1978). Another recent example: “Altruism may be defined as social behavior carried out to achieve positive outcomes for another rather than for the seif” (Rushton, 1980, p. 10). Such definitions lead us to examine the relations of person to other as a basis for the development of in altruism. Thus in this chapter I shall discuss the origin of altruistic motivation based on self-other relations. In discussing self-other relations, the term object will be borrowed from the psychoanalytic literature. The object (or love object) is a significant other (mother, spouse, etc), either a real one or an iternatized one. I shall attempt to delineate milestones in the development of object relations and their reflection in the development of altruism. Individual differences in the quality of altruistic behavior will be presented in light of quality and level of object relations achieved in adulthood.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDevelopment and maintenance of prosocial behavior : international perspectives on positive morality
EditorsErvin Staub, D. Bar-Tal, J. Karilowski , J. Reykowski
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPlenum Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)0306412993
StatePublished - 1984

Publication series

NameCritical issues in social justice lat
PublisherPlenum Press


  • Altruism


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