PGTRS is a weekly series examining the latest research in the field, sponsored by the Psychiatric & Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit.
Upcoming Spring 2013 Seminar Presentation:
"The origins of human altruistic behavior in ontogeny and phylogeny"
Tues. May 21, 2013
Garrod and Mendel Conference Room,
Felix Warneken, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
It is often assumed that humans are inherently selfish, and cultural norms and practices have to override these tendencies to enable altruistic behavior. Specifically, young children are thought to be driven mainly by immediate selfish motivations, acquiring altruistic behaviors through the internalization of social norms or being rewarded for socially desired behavior. Moreover, it has been argued that our closest evolutionary relatives are motivated by selfish interests alone, not caring about the needs of others. This comparative evidence would lend further support for the notion that human-unique cultural factors are foundational. However, I present recent work with young children and chimpanzees that indicates that human altruism might have deeper roots in ontogeny and phylogeny. I will summarize these studies to entertain the possibility that human altruism is not due to cultural practices alone, but reflects a biological predisposition that we might share with our closest evolutionary relatives.
Devoted to genetic, clinical, and translational research in psychiatry and neuroscience, the seminar series is open to investigators, clinicians, and trainees. This seminar series is held on Tuesdays from 10:00am-11:00am in the Garrod and Mendel Conference Room on the 2nd floor of MGH’s Simches Research Building (185 Cambridge Street, Boston) Please click here for directions to the conference room.
The seminar is open to the public, and no registration is required.
For more information about the seminar, or to be added to our mailing list, please contact Erin Anderson.