Paola D’Adamo, Miguel Fuentes, Mariana Lozada

Paper #: 10-07-014

In this work we examine studies from different disciplines which lead us to hypothesize that human altruism can be intrinsically rewarding and, given its plasticity, is modulated by social contexts. We address several investigations on neural and endocrine processes, as well as the beneficial effects that altruistic behaviour and social support have on immunity, life expectancy and stress levels, among other advantages. Considering this evidence, we propose a model of social cooperation that presents phase transition in an imperfect supercritical pitchfork bifurcation. The manuscript proposes a potential beneficial role of altruism that could account for its occurrence among non-kin and beyond reciprocity. The model presented here allows the experimental testing of this hypothesis under different cultural and social conditions. This contribution sheds new light on the theoretical discussion about the origin and development of altruism in humans.