Front Page Titles (by Subject) Egocentric Altruism - Literature of Liberty, April/June 1979, vol. 2, No. 2
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Egocentric Altruism - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, April/June 1979, vol. 2, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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“Personal Control, Social Control, and Altruism.” American Psychologist 34 (March 1979): 231–239.
This article studies egocentrically motivated altruism (helping) as an alternative to attempts to regulate relationships between individuals and society. The distinctions between social control and personal control (self-regulation) provides the context for this discussion.
Social controls are introduced in an attempt to resolve conflicts between an individual and the group arising from conflicts of interest. Such controls are most frequently applied regarding behaviors “for which there is strong stimulation in the biological makeup or the immediate environment,” e.g., aggression, sexuality, maintenance of property rights, and enforcement of commitments. The use of external social controls requires the existence of elaborate social structures to provide continuous surveillance to identify infractions.
A number of significant problems arise in attempts to exert such social regulation. (1) The regulators must have exclusive discretionary control over the incentives and reinforcers by which a person's behavior may be modified. (2) The surveillance must be constant. (3) The extensive use of aversive consequences and negative reinforcers is considered by many as morally objectionable and may create an impetus to defiance or rebellion. (4) It is necessary that controllers behave consistently within their own actions, and similarly to all other controllers. “When the degree of social control is continually inconsistent with individual needs, the struggle against such control becomes intense.”
Through personal control (self-regulation) the person maintains some independence from the environment. “[It] provides the opportunity for initiating, maintaining, and reinforcing actions that can result in either increased social benefits or excessive pursuit of egocentric objectives.” Development of altruism is mostly to be achieved and maintained when such behaviors are perceived to be self-initiated rather than imposed. “The task. . . is to train persons to act for the benefits of another because it is in their own self-interest.”