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The half-life of human altruism

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Decades of research in the behavioral sciences has shown that people are quite willing to help others in need. What remains unclear, however, is whether people derive a similar sense of “warm-glow” from cooperating in more abstract and depersonalized social dilemmas such as helping to save the environment. Moreover, although network contagion effects increasingly allow social causes to reach a large number of interconnected individuals fast, efficiently, and at low cost, little is known about the duration of such viral prosociality. I’ll review evidence from three studies, from saving energy to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, to help carve out a research agenda for understanding the evolving nature of human altruism in the twenty-first century.

This talk is part of the CJBS Marketing Group Seminars series.

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