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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Choosing between altruistic and selfish behaviors takes practice
URI Visiting Scholar to discuss the altruistic choice on April 1

KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 25, 2002 -- To understand why choosing "not to be selfish" has more to do with a lifelong pattern of reinforcement for such behavior than a given demand may be one reason to attend the upcoming University of Rhode Island Psi Chi (psychology honors society) annual invited address.

Distinguished behavioral psychologist Professor Howard Rachlin of the State University of New York at Stony Brook will present "A Behavioral Analysis of Altruism and Selfishness," on Monday, April 1, at 4 p.m. in the Multicultural Center’s Hardge Forum on the Kingston Campus. The lecture is free and open to the public

The author of a number of acclaimed works including Modern Behaviorism, Behavior and Mind, Behaviorism in Everyday Life, and Judgment, Decision and Choice, Rachlin is a scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation and recipient of the James Mckeen Cattell Fellowship.
Rachlin’s talk will emphasize the fact that many situations in human life present choices that characterize problems of self-control, social cooperation and altruism. He will describe the patterns that lead to altruistic versus selfish behavior. Altruism, like self-control, is a valuable pattern of behavior, sensitive to reinforcement, and may be developed over a person's lifetime by responsiveness to patterns of reinforcement. Individual acts of altruism, each of which may be of no benefit to the person, may be beneficial when repeated over time. Tension exists, however, because each decision not to cooperate tends to be preferred over each decision to cooperate. Thus people can only benefit from altruistic behavior when they refuse to make decisions on a case-by-case basis. Rachlin will discuss the factors that alter outcomes of this tension.

He is renowned for having incorporated Aristotelian teleology into behavioristic analyses, for presenting a behavioristic foundation for economic laws, and for explicating the bases for psychology's "Matching Law." He received his doctorate in psychology from Harvard and has organized symposia on behavioral analyses in a number of nations.

For Information: Albert Silverstein, 874-2087 or 727-2414, Jhodi Redlich, 874-4500

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