Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Internal mechanisms that implicate the self enlighten the egoism-altruism debate

Constantine Sedikides a1 and Aiden P. Gregg a1
a1 Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Southampton SO17 1BJ, England, United Kingdom


Internal mechanisms, especially those implicating the self, are crucial for the egoism-altruism debate. Self-liking is extended to close others and can be extended, through socialization and reinforcement experiences, to non-close others: Altruistic responses are directed toward others who are included in the self. The process of self-extension can account for cross-situational variability, contextual variability, and individual differences in altruistic behavior.