236 Altruism & Mating Success

Based on research by Arnocky, Steven, Piché, T., Albert, G., Ouellette, D., & Barclay, Pat. (2016) written by Mara Rowcliffe, MS.

How did altruistic humans, acting to benefit another at their own expense, ever reproduce to hand down this trait?

According to recent Canadian psychology research, participating in selfless behavior may have evolved by sexual selection. Their first study included 300 unmarried men and women who took a survey about their altruistic tendencies and mating success. Participants who reported more altruism also asserted they were more desirable to the opposite sex and had sex more often.

But were they really altruistic? In the second study, participants were entered in a drawing for $100 and asked whether they wanted to keep their winnings, or donate a portion of it to the charity of their choosing. Those who were willing to donate winnings also reported having more lifetime sex partners, more casual sex partners, and more sex partners over the past year. These patterns continued even after controlling for personality traits. The results of these studies suggest altruists may be more attractive to partners, thus have higher mating success giving their trait to offspring.

All relationships thrive when people generously help each other. Consider what others might need and find ways to help.


Arnocky, S., Piché, T., Albert, G., Ouellette, D., & Barclay, P. (2016). Altruism predicts mating success in humans. British Journal of Psychology.

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