Altruism has been widely explored throughout history within the humanities. However, scientific explorations of altruism emerged prominently from evolutionary biology and social psychology. Recently, positive psychology gave impetus to altruism studies, adopting the specific perspective of well-being promotion. In particular, the theoretical framework of eudaimonia, founded on Aristotle’s conceptualization of well-being as the pursuit of one’s diamon (true nature or spirit unique to each person), highlighted the potential of altruism for fostering individual and community well-being. Its emphasis on the essential role of individual’s contribution to society in the process of realizing one’s diamon has led to an explosion of altruism investigations. However, due to the theoretical contention and confusion that hover altruism concept, most studies have explored it as a behavior, missing to tap its full meaning and potential. Delving into the philosophical and epistemological reasons of the altruism debate/confusion, this work proposes that altruism and its potentials for human well-being can be optimized if it is explored from a value-based and psychological perspective, including multiple dimensions and features. Moving from these premises, this study aimed at a cross-cultural exploration of lay people’s definition and operationalization of altruism, as well as its role in promoting individual and community well-being. To this purpose, Altruism Questionnaire (AQ) was developed and administered to 432 adult participants (50% women), aged 30-60, living in India (N=216) and Italy (N=216) with secondary level education (50%) or graduation/post-graduation (50%). AQ comprises both open-ended and scaled questions, thus allowing for a mixed-method approach (qualitative and quantitative) in data analysis. Participants were also administered other instruments with the aim of assessing the relationship of altruism with well-being dimensions: Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ), that refers to the eudaimonic component of perceived meaning; Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) and Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS), that evaluate the so-called hedonic components of wellbeing (positive affect and perceived achievements); finally, the Eudaimonic and Hedonic Happiness Investigation (EHHI), that explores both hedonic and eudaimonic well-being, through the assessment of meaningfulness and happiness in various life domains. Using the theoretical frameworks of bottom-up approach and grounded theory, qualitative data were coded and grouped into categories. Cross-cultural comparisons were performed through frequency analysis, Fisher’s exact test, Chi square and Cell Chi-square analyses. As per the quantitative measures, group comparisons were carried out through T-tests. Subsequently, participants were divided into three groups based on their Perceived Level of Altruism (PLA), a scaled question included in AQ. The relation of PLA to well-being variables were checked using ANOVA, Tukey’s post-hoc analysis, correlation coefficient and regression analysis. The joint evaluation of qualitative and quantitative results served as counter-checks, at the same time allowing for a more articulated interpretation of results. Findings showed that in both cultures altruism was prominently perceived as a value, a psychological dimension, and a characteristic of interpersonal relationships, while the behavioral aspects accounted for only 20% of the answers. Cultural differences were prominently evident in the conceptualization and operationalization of altruism. Regression analysis showed that PLA predicted meaning in life and positive emotions, while it was not correlated to Satisfaction with life when controlling for presence of meaning and positive affect. PLA predicted meaningfulness and happiness in life domains that were characterized by eudaimonic or relational features, rather than in hedonic or individual focused ones. Results suggest that altruism must be conceptualized and explored from a value-based perspective, taking into account the cultural variants, in order to optimize its potentials. Overall, altruism promotes a flourishing life that integrates and balances both Self (individual) and Other (community), hedonia (happy life) and eudaimonia (meaningful life), and that is filled with enriching inter-personal connections. Findings suggest a new approach to the conceptualization of altruism, and to the development of intervention strategies that promote altruism both at individual and community levels.

ALTRUISM AND THE PROMOTION OF INDIVIDUAL AND COMMUNITY WELL-BEING:A CROSS-CULTURAL EXPLORATION / L. Soosai Nathan ; tutor: A. Delle Fave ; coordinatore: R. L. Weinstein. - : . UNIVERSITA' DEGLI STUDI DI MILANO, 2013 Feb 27. ((25. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2012. [10.13130/soosai-nathan-lawrence_phd2013-02-27].

ALTRUISM AND THE PROMOTION OF INDIVIDUAL AND COMMUNITY WELL-BEING:A CROSS-CULTURAL EXPLORATION

L. SOOSAI NATHAN
2013-02-27

Abstract

Altruism has been widely explored throughout history within the humanities. However, scientific explorations of altruism emerged prominently from evolutionary biology and social psychology. Recently, positive psychology gave impetus to altruism studies, adopting the specific perspective of well-being promotion. In particular, the theoretical framework of eudaimonia, founded on Aristotle’s conceptualization of well-being as the pursuit of one’s diamon (true nature or spirit unique to each person), highlighted the potential of altruism for fostering individual and community well-being. Its emphasis on the essential role of individual’s contribution to society in the process of realizing one’s diamon has led to an explosion of altruism investigations. However, due to the theoretical contention and confusion that hover altruism concept, most studies have explored it as a behavior, missing to tap its full meaning and potential. Delving into the philosophical and epistemological reasons of the altruism debate/confusion, this work proposes that altruism and its potentials for human well-being can be optimized if it is explored from a value-based and psychological perspective, including multiple dimensions and features. Moving from these premises, this study aimed at a cross-cultural exploration of lay people’s definition and operationalization of altruism, as well as its role in promoting individual and community well-being. To this purpose, Altruism Questionnaire (AQ) was developed and administered to 432 adult participants (50% women), aged 30-60, living in India (N=216) and Italy (N=216) with secondary level education (50%) or graduation/post-graduation (50%). AQ comprises both open-ended and scaled questions, thus allowing for a mixed-method approach (qualitative and quantitative) in data analysis. Participants were also administered other instruments with the aim of assessing the relationship of altruism with well-being dimensions: Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ), that refers to the eudaimonic component of perceived meaning; Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) and Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS), that evaluate the so-called hedonic components of wellbeing (positive affect and perceived achievements); finally, the Eudaimonic and Hedonic Happiness Investigation (EHHI), that explores both hedonic and eudaimonic well-being, through the assessment of meaningfulness and happiness in various life domains. Using the theoretical frameworks of bottom-up approach and grounded theory, qualitative data were coded and grouped into categories. Cross-cultural comparisons were performed through frequency analysis, Fisher’s exact test, Chi square and Cell Chi-square analyses. As per the quantitative measures, group comparisons were carried out through T-tests. Subsequently, participants were divided into three groups based on their Perceived Level of Altruism (PLA), a scaled question included in AQ. The relation of PLA to well-being variables were checked using ANOVA, Tukey’s post-hoc analysis, correlation coefficient and regression analysis. The joint evaluation of qualitative and quantitative results served as counter-checks, at the same time allowing for a more articulated interpretation of results. Findings showed that in both cultures altruism was prominently perceived as a value, a psychological dimension, and a characteristic of interpersonal relationships, while the behavioral aspects accounted for only 20% of the answers. Cultural differences were prominently evident in the conceptualization and operationalization of altruism. Regression analysis showed that PLA predicted meaning in life and positive emotions, while it was not correlated to Satisfaction with life when controlling for presence of meaning and positive affect. PLA predicted meaningfulness and happiness in life domains that were characterized by eudaimonic or relational features, rather than in hedonic or individual focused ones. Results suggest that altruism must be conceptualized and explored from a value-based perspective, taking into account the cultural variants, in order to optimize its potentials. Overall, altruism promotes a flourishing life that integrates and balances both Self (individual) and Other (community), hedonia (happy life) and eudaimonia (meaningful life), and that is filled with enriching inter-personal connections. Findings suggest a new approach to the conceptualization of altruism, and to the development of intervention strategies that promote altruism both at individual and community levels.
DELLE FAVE, ANTONELLA
WEINSTEIN, ROBERTO LODOVICO
altruism ; well-being ; positive psychology ; culture ; mixed-method approach
Settore M-PSI/01 - Psicologia Generale
ALTRUISM AND THE PROMOTION OF INDIVIDUAL AND COMMUNITY WELL-BEING:A CROSS-CULTURAL EXPLORATION / L. Soosai Nathan ; tutor: A. Delle Fave ; coordinatore: R. L. Weinstein. - : . UNIVERSITA' DEGLI STUDI DI MILANO, 2013 Feb 27. ((25. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2012. [10.13130/soosai-nathan-lawrence_phd2013-02-27].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/217619
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