Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
The other day, our lowest boss told us about plans to (yet again) move our offices. Describing the pluses and minuses of the proposed new place, with a long face, he (the chain smoker) turned to his roommate (a pack a day smoker), saying: "and the worst: smoking only downstairs outside the entrance!", then turned to me, "but [DoDo] will be happy!"

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 12:27:39 PM EST
but [DoDo] will be happy!"

Charitable, no? And pious somehow, given literal, if contradictory, tenets of Christian doctrine. The golden rule is: Do unto others as they would do unto you. As is agape, though "love" is not a well-defined affect or reliable factor of obtaining one's true desire.

Microeconomists at the University of Chicago have applied themselves to describing agape by compiling survey evidence anyway. I read this piece published by the National Opinion Research Center (2006). The hypothesis is a little creepy, considering the research bears no relation to subject matter in biology or notorious B.I.G. self-interest of economic actors: "Altruism and Empathy in America: Trends and Correlates" (2006). Then again the paper may not be the product of a Serious Person, rather the culmination some divinity student's 15-year-old dissertation.

Throughout the arts and sciences from philosophy to seuroscience altruistic behaviors and values have been widely studied. Just within the social sciences there have been very diverse research traditions within economics, psychology, political science, sociology, and related disciplines (Batson, 1991; Batson, 1998; Eisenberg, 1986; Kangas, 1997; Penner, 1995; Piliavin and Charng, 1990; Rose-Acerman, 1996; Sawyer, 1966; Staub, et al., 1984; Underwood, 2002; Wispe, 1978; Wrightsman, 1974). One of the main limitations of social-science research on altruism is that most research has been based on very restricted, small, non-representative, convenience samples, mostly of undergraduate students. 1 While work with student, convenience samples can be ver useful, especially when experimental designs are utilized, they suffer from serious, external-validity problems and do not tell social scientists and others about the extent of behaviors and values in society-at-large. To expand knowledge aout the level, nature, and associates of empathy and altruism in American society, measures of these constructs were placed on a national, full probability sample of adult Americans.

Four aspects of altruism were examined: altruistic love, altruistic values, altruistic behaviors, and empathy. Altruism is thought of as dealing with both values/preferences [cf. Consumer Preference theories] and behaviors "motivated mainly out of a consideration for another's needs rather than one's own" (Piliavin and Charng, 1990; p. 30) and that altruism "provides benefits to its recipients but also provides no benefits to the actors and even incurs some costs" (Howard and Piliavin, 2000, p. 114). Empathy was examined in addition to the direct altruism measures because as Batson (1998, p. 300) has noted, "the most frequently proposed source of altruistic motivation has been an other-oriented emotional response congruent with the perceived welfare of another person -- today usually called empathy. [emphasis added]

"Usually called," yes, with the same sensitivy to diction as is used with the words "productivity," "spirituality," "gender," or "epithet" which is to mean, commonly, a "slur," or more precisely a stereotypical insult. Some social scientists are so shrewd!

The principal hypotheses examined are that empathy and altruism will be greater among:

  1. those who are socially and civicly engaged.
  2. those who see interpersonal, social obligations between people.
  3. the religious rather than the non-religious and that among the religious empathy and altruism will rise with level of involvement. ...

Four items measure interpersonal, altruistic love or agape (Appendix A: 2). Agape is one of six types of love measured by the Love Attitudes Scale (Butler et al., 1995; Davies, 2001; Hendrick and Hendrick, 1986, 1987, 1991; Montgomery and Sorell, 1997, 1997; Murthy, Rotzien, and Vacha-Haase, 1996; Sorokin, 1960; Taraban and Hendrick, 1995; Yancey and Eastman, 1995). Based on analysis of past studies (Butler et al., 1995; Hendrick and Hendrick, 1986; Montgomery and Sorell; Yancey and Eastman, 1995) and a GSS pretest, four of seven original items were selected. As Table 3 shows, altruistic love is widely endorse. 90% agree that they would suffer theselves rather than let their loved one suffer, 81% agree that they usually put their loved one's wishes above their own, 79% agree they would "endure all things for the sake of the one I love," and 72% agree that they cannot be happy unless the place their loved one's happiness first.  The agape scale runs from 4 for someone who strongly disagreed with each statement (the lowest on altruistic love) to 20 for someone who strongly agreed with each (the highest on altruistic love). The mean for the total population is 16.6 and the sample size is 1316 (having been asked only in 2004)/ The inter-item correlations average .52 and Chronback's reliability coeficient is .81. [emphasis added]

According to this study, the likelihood that smoker loves you is significant. Conversely, that smoker probably does not love anyone else upon whose happiness his own does not depend.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 02:30:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 08:04:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series