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Humans are an intensely social species, frequently performing costly behaviors that benefit others. Efforts to solve the evolutionary puzzle of altruism have a lengthy history, and recent years have seen many important advances across a range of disciplines. Here we bring together this interdisciplinary body of research and review the main theories that have been proposed to explain human prosociality, with an emphasis on kinship, reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, punishment, and morality. We highlight recent methodological advances that are stimulating research and point to some areas that either remain controversial or merit more attention.

Original publication




Journal article


Annu Rev Psychol

Publication Date





575 - 599


adaptationism, conflict, cooperation, kinship, prosociality, punishment, reciprocity, Altruism, Biological Evolution, Cooperative Behavior, Humans