Why People With Fewer Resources Are More Altruistic

Poor person

Decades ago, it was believed that human beings base their management of resources basically based on an economic calculation based on costs and benefits According to this idea, everything we do in relation to others responds to a prior reflection on what we lose or what we gain by choosing each option.

However… where is altruism in this formula? If the conception of the human mind based on economic calculations has lost strength, it is partly because many of the things we do when interacting with each other have more to do with empathy, feelings of identification and the way of conceiving coexistence than with the will to gain power and not lose what we have. AND the fact that the people who have the least are the most altruistic is an example of this.

Altruism in people with less money

If we acted in a totally rational manner and following economic calculations (that is, guided by the logic of numbers) we would expect that the richest people would be those who are most willing to be altruistic and give up part of their belongings, and that the Poor people would be the most reluctant to share, given that they are in trouble when it comes to securing the means of subsistence. However, several studies indicate that, beyond theory, the same thing happens in the real world: People with less money are those who give more to others and they do it voluntarily.

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For example, in an investigation whose results were published in the year 200 in the journal Health Psychology It was found that people with a lower purchasing power (determined from variables such as income level, education and type of trade or profession) were more willing to give money to charitable causes, in addition to tending to adopt a more positive attitude. Open and receptive to strangers who need help.

On the other hand, the tendency for people from more humble socioeconomic backgrounds to be more altruistic has been recorded even in preschool-aged boys and girls. How is this explained? Of course, not taking into account rationality, understood as a series of strategies to preserve what one has and earn more. Let’s see why it is.

Less resources, more social active

In practice, those who have few material resources are not limited to living the life of the middle or wealthy classes but with much fewer means: the way of living is qualitatively different, and the way in which social relations are established is one of This differences.

Poverty is the default situation in which the majority of the population has lived throughout the centuries. Wealth, or the ability to live without major financial worries, is the exception, not the norm. So that, large communities of people have found themselves in poverty at the same time and through generations they have done something about it: associate, create neighborhood and protection networks, which can extend to people from other communities.

As there are no habits that do not modify ideas in the long run, communities of people with few resources have been internalizing the idea that individualism is something harmful that brings problems in the face of the threat of extreme poverty, so it is necessary to adopt a mentality collectivist. Hence, then, the habit of helping others becomes something perfectly expected in any context in which someone needs help. It is a cultural trend and identification between equals, a logic necessary for groups of people without resources to remain and be stable

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On the other hand, middle or upper class people living in cities have few reasons to create complex social bonds of solidarity, so help is seen more as a personal decision, something unrelated to the functioning of the community.

It is advisable not to mythologize

These types of psychological phenomena can lead us to think that people from more humble origins live a more authentic, honest or even happy life: after all, they would be more likely to behave in the way we identify as ethically correct. However, it is worth remembering that Poverty has very negative impacts on all areas of life: health, education and ability to raise boys and girls.