Prosocial Motives, Emotions, and Behavior: The Better Angels of Our Nature
In recent years, psychological scientists' narrow focus on negative emotions and antisocial behavior has been broadened to include a panoply of positive emotions such as empathy, compassion, gratitude, and forgiveness and a new emphasis on prosocial, generous, altruistic behavior. At the same time, neuroscientists, primatologists, and evolutionary biologists have begun to identify the evolutionary and neurological roots of prosocial feelings and actions.
Research shows that human beings have an innate capacity for prosocial behavior, but the inclinations underlying such behavior can be blocked, inhibited, or overpowered by selfish, neurotic, or culturally engrained attitudes and values. Genes, personality, past social experiences, social and cultural identities, and contextual factors can all influence the degree to which human behavior is empathic, generous, and kind—or cruel, vindictive, and destructive.
Prosocial Motives, Emotions, and Behavior: The Better Angels of Our Nature, with a subtitle borrowed from an inaugural address by Abraham Lincoln, is a comprehensive examination, from a variety of perspectives, of the interplay of these influences.
The book is divided into five sections:
Part I considers theoretical perspectives on prosocial behavior;
Part II illuminates the psychological processes that underlie prosocial behavior;
Part III focuses on specific prosocial emotions such as compassionate love, gratitude, and forgiveness;
Part IV examines prosocial behavior between individuals at the dyadic level; and
Part V investigates prosocial behavior at the societal level, with an emphasis on solving intractable conflicts and achieving desirable social change.
This simulating, wide-ranging volume is sure to be of great interest to psychologists, social scientists, and anyone with an interest in understanding and fostering prosocial behavior.