In Cold Blood
Abigail Marsh: Why some people are more altruistic than others?
Abigail talks about the human capacity to care for others. In this Ted Talk, she says that it is important to understand this to better comprehend human social nature. According to many philosophers, human nature is fundamentally selfish and we are only ever motivated by our own welfare. The speaker only partly agrees with this statement because she argues that everyone has altruistic tendencies but are different from people who are genuinely possess it. Dick and Perry from In Cold Blood by Sherman Capote were on the run after committing a horrific multiple murder of the Clutter family. Along the way, they decide to help a young boy and an old man by letting them hitchhike in their car. Dick and Perry are by no means altruistic, however they were expressing an altruistic tendency. This poses the question: What makes an altruistic person different from a person who is not? The speaker defines Altruism as: a voluntary, costly behavior motivated by the desire to help another individual. She explains that a person on the opposite end of the spectrum, such as Dick and Perry, are psychopaths. A psychopath is cold, uncaring, and sometimes engages in violent behavior. They can feel compassion on occasion. Generally, this group has three characteristics: A poorer recognition of others' fear and an under reactive, smaller than average amygdala. These findings could be true for Dick and Perry because they have no remorse for what they had done. At the end of the video, the speaker suggests that a person who truly altruistic may have a larger amygdala than average, resulting in an anti sociopathic brain. Humility, lack of self-centeredness, and compassion are all traits that an extreme altruist possesses, traits of which Dick and Perry lack significantly.