Altruism in Cross-Cultural Perspective provides such a scholarly overview, examining the intersection of culture and such topics as evolutionary accounts of altruism and the importance of altruism in ritual and religion. The past decade has seen a proliferation of research on altruism, made possible in part by significant funding from organizations such as the John Templeton Foundation. While significant research has been conducted on biological, social, and individual dimensions of altruism, there has been attempt to provide an overview of the ways that altruistic behavior and attitudes vary across cultures. The book addresses the methodological challenges of researching altruism across cultures, as well as the ways that altruism is manifest in difficult circumstances. A particular strength of the book is its attention to multiple disciplinary approaches to understanding altruism, with contributors from fields including psychology, anthropology, sociology, biology, communication, philosophy, religious studies, gender studies, and bioethics.
Douglas A. Vakoch is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, as well as Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute. His research spans the fields of psychology, anthropology, and space sciences, and his books include Psychology of Space Exploration: Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective (NASA, 2011), On Orbit and Beyond: Psychological Perspectives on Human Spaceflight (Springer, 2012), Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication (NASA, 2012), Astrobiology, History, and Society: Extraterrestrial Life and the Impact of Discovery (Springer, 2013), and Between Worlds: The Art and Science of Interstellar Message Composition (MIT Press, 2013). Dr. Vakoch chaired the symposium --Altruism in Cross-Cultural Perspective|| at the 34th Annual Conference of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research, which brought together researchers from anthropology, psychology, sociology, medicine, and public health for the first in-depth discussion of altruism across cultures. He has been a faculty participant in two separate month-long summer seminars sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation: --Biology and Purpose: Altruism, Morality, and Human Nature in Evolutionary Theory|| and --Works of Love: Scientific and Theological Perspectives on Altruism.|| Dr. Vakoch has served on the Executive Committee of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research, which brings together psychologists, anthropologists, and other social scientists to foster interdisciplinary dialogue and research. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Ecopsychology, and he serves as general editor for Berghahn Books' Ecofeminist Theory and Practice Series, which includes his own book, Ecofeminism and Rhetoric: Critical Perspectives on Sex, Technology, and Discourse (2011).