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Acts of Altruism

Sedikides and Gregg describe self-enhancement as people always acting in their own best interest. If people act in their own best interest, how can you explain acts of altruism? Why, particularly at certain times like Christmas and national tragedies like the Katrina hurricane, are people encouraged or even pressured to be altruistic?

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Self-interest is not an easy term to define. It is extremely broad and extremely narrow at the same time. Pure self-interest is often tautological, and if not that, explains too much about human action. Sedikides and Gregg (2008) stress four specific approaches to "self-enhancement" that are meant to counter these long standing problems.

1. The promotion of the ego, or the "self advancing" concept. Humans have a tendency to positively estimate themselves.

2. This can take two additional forms: private or public enhancement. We might stress our good points to maintain a good mood or self image, but we will also promote ourselves in the public arena as well.

3. Self-enhancement is not broad. This means that it is attached to what specific fields we have chosen to create our lives around. ...

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The solution discusses acts of altruism.