Dr Michael Babula, a Senior Lecturer from the university’s Business School, publishes his findings, based on more than a decade of research, in Motivation, Altruism, Personality and Social Psychology: The Coming Age of Altruism, to be released on 20 November by Palgrave Macmillan.
The author says his book challenges “60 years of received wisdom” about human motivation and psychological health. “It’s been widely accepted that humans are inherently self-interested, and that the drive to maximise one’s own self-interest is a healthy guiding principle in life,” Dr Babula says. “I argue that self-interest is a false step on the path to developing the ability to live for others. It is this drive towards self-interest and materialism, at the expense of our wider social surroundings, that is a major source of crime, cruelty, unhappiness and lack of empathy within western society.”
In the book, he directly challenges the views of many leading historical names in psychology, such as Abraham Maslow and Sigmund Freud, as well as modern-day scholars including Philip Zimbardo, Barbara Oakley and David Sloan-Wilson, claiming that society is in “a dark age” because governing and educational systems promote the cultivation of self-interest. He cites the mortgage crisis, rising debt levels and a decade of warfare as examples of where self-interest can lead society into disarray, and asserts that altruistic living leads to lower levels of stress and depression, thereby having huge benefits for society.
“Over the next few decades, we may see the rise of a new civilisation that works collectively to resolve pressing issues rather than cause them,” he adds. “The book has a hopeful message, since the values of the younger generation lean towards being more inclusive and cooperative – in short, more altruistic. Our governments need to start catching up with these important changes.”
Dr Babula, who lectures at Greenwich in Quantitative Techniques, is an American-born, British-educated psychologist, political scientist, business scholar and author. His research has previously appeared in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology and PS: Political Science and Politics.
For more information about Dr Babula and his new book, including video interviews: http://www.ageofaltruism.com/596-2/
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