Moving Beyond Self-Interest: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience, and the Social Sciences

Overview

Moving Beyond Self-Interest is an interdisciplinary volume that discusses cutting-edge developments in the science of caring for and helping others. In Part I, contributors raise foundational issues related to human caregiving. They present new theories and data to show how natural selection might have shaped a genuinely altruistic drive to benefit others, how this drive intersects with the attachment and caregiving systems, and how it emerges from a broader social engagement system made possible by symbiotic ...

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Overview

Moving Beyond Self-Interest is an interdisciplinary volume that discusses cutting-edge developments in the science of caring for and helping others. In Part I, contributors raise foundational issues related to human caregiving. They present new theories and data to show how natural selection might have shaped a genuinely altruistic drive to benefit others, how this drive intersects with the attachment and caregiving systems, and how it emerges from a broader social engagement system made possible by symbiotic regulation of autonomic physiological states. In Part II, contributors propose a new neurophysiological model of the human caregiving system and present arguments and evidence to show how mammalian neural circuitry that supports parenting might be recruited to direct human cooperation and competition, human empathy, and parental and romantic love. Part III is devoted to the psychology of human caregiving. Some contributors in this section show how an evolutionary perspective helps us better understand parental investment in and empathic concern for children at risk for, or suffering from, various health, behavioral, and cognitive problems. Other contributors identify circumstances that differentially predict caregiver benefits and costs, and raise the question of whether extreme levels of compassion are actually pathological. The section concludes with a discussion of semantic and conceptual obstacles to the scientific investigation of caregiving. Part IV focuses on possible interfaces between new models of caregiving motivation and economics, political science, and social policy development. In this section, contributors show how the new theory and research discussed in this volume can inform our understanding of economic utility, policies for delivering social services (such as health care and education), and hypotheses concerning the origins and development of human society, including some of its more problematic features of nationalism, conflict, and war. The chapters in this volume help readers appreciate the human capacity for engaging in altruistic acts, on both a small and large scale.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Moving Beyond Self-Interest is a highly significant edited collection that will serve as a foundation stone for future research in this field. The volume editors are leading the way in describing the basic science of the caregiving system at the biological, psychological, and evolutionary levels. This intellectually elevating collection is a must-read for anyone who is interested in human nature at its best, or who reflects on the potential of social organization and policy to optimize human thriving."
- Stephen G. Post, Director, Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, Stony Brook University Medical Center, and editor of Altruism and Health: Perspectives from Empirical Research

"This book is a valuable resource on an under-studied but critical topic for the field and our species - the causes, consequences, and correlates of caregiving behavior. The cast of contributing authors is stellar. Topics range from the evolutionary, neurological, and motivational bases of caregiving, to its implications for economics, political science, and social policy."
- Nancy Eisenberg, Regents' Professor of Psychology, Arizona State University

"For most of the twentieth century, social scientists resisted any attempts to think about human beings in evolutionary terms, out of fear that we'd discover terrible things about our selfish natures. But a new wave of biologically based research has demonstrated that we are intricately designed to care about other people. Moving Beyond Self-Interest is an impressive and thought-provoking volume."
- Douglas T. Kenrick, Professor of Psychology, Arizona State University, and author of Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life

"From a variety of starting points, this volume provides the reader with the perspective necessary to truly understand the relationships among such vital phenomena as self-interest, altruism, and care-giving."
- Robert B. Cialdini, author of Influence: Science and Practice

"This volume comes with an ambitious, even breathtaking title: Moving Beyond Self-Interest: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience, and the Social Sciences. This book truly delivers what it advertises. I know of no other volume on prosocial behavior and helping that covers so much important material so well. This is an extraordinary book from people who bring insights and perspective to one of the most important aspects of the human condition."
- William Graziano Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195388107
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/26/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephanie L. Brown is Associate Professor in the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is also a faculty member at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Her scholarly work involves discovering mechanisms that link social behavior to physical health.

R. Michael Brown is Professor Emeritus at Pacific Lutheran University. He is co-creator (with Stephanie Brown) of Selective Investment Theory. He is also co-author (with biologist Paul Cook) of the first interdisciplinary introductory psychology text to utilize evolution and development as integrative themes.

Louis A. Penner is a social psychologist and Professor of Oncology at the Karmanos Cancer Institute at Wayne State University. He studies psychosocial aspects of medical care, with a particular focus on health disparities. One important part of his research program is studying ways to help parents and children cope with the stresses of pediatric cancer. The goal of this research is to reduce the amount of distress that children and their parents experience during cancer treatments. This work is supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute.

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Table of Contents

Part I: Introduction

1. Background and Historical Perspective
R. Michael Brown, Louis A. Penner, & Stephanie L. Brown

Part II: Foundations of Caregiving

2. How Altruistic by Nature?
Dennis L. Krebs

3. Adult Attachment and Caregiving: Individual Differences in Providing a Safe Haven and Secure Base to Others
Mario Mikiluncer & Phillip R. Shaver

4. Mechanisms, Mediators, and Adaptive Consequences of Caregiving
Stephen W. Porges & C. Sue Carter

Part III: The Neuroscience of Caregiving Motivation

5. A Model of Human Caregiving Motivation
Stephanie L. Brown, R. Michael Brown, and Stephanie Preston

6. Neural Circuits Regulating Maternal Behavior: Implications for Understanding the Neural Basis of Social Cooperation and Competition
Michael Numan

7. Neuroscience of Empathic Responding
Jean Decety

8. Parental and Romantic Attachment Systems: Neural Circuits, Genes, and Experiential Contributions to Interpersonal Engagement
James E. Swain

Part IV: The Psychology of Caregiving Motivation

9. Parental Investment in Caregiving Relationships
Daphne B. Bugental, David A. Beaulieu, & Randy Corpuz

10. The Role of Empathic Emotions in Caregiving: Caring for Pediatric Cancer Patients
Louis A, Penner, Felicity W. K. Harper, & Terrance L. Albrecht

11. The Costs and Benefits of Informal Caregiving
Richard Schulz & Joan K. Monin

12. Too Close for Comfort? Lessons from Excesses and Deficits of Compassion in Psychopathology
June Gruber & Dacher Keltner

13. Egosystem and Ecosystem: Motivational Perspectives on Caregiving
Jennifer Crocker & Amy Canevello

14. Caregiving in Adult Close Relationships
Ellen Berscheid

Part V: Implications for Economics, Political Science, and Social Policy

15. A New View of Utility: Maximizing "Optimal Investment"
Dylan M. Smith, Stephanie L. Brown, & Mary L. Rigdon

16. Bringing Neuroscience into Political Science: The Caregiving System and Human Sociopolitical Evolution
Judith S, Kullberg & J. David Singer

17. Motivation and the Delivery of Social Services
Julian Le Grand

Epilogue
Stephanie L. Brown, R. Michael Brown, & Louis A. Penner

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