Altruism and reproductive limitations

Carey J. Fitzgerald, Stephen M. Colarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We examined how different types of reproductive limitations - functional (schizoid personality disorder and schizophrenia), physical (malnutrition), and sexual (bisexuality and homosexuality) - influenced altruistic intentions toward hypothetical target individuals of differing degrees of relatedness (r = 0, .25, and .50). Participants were 312 undergraduate students who completed a questionnaire on altruism toward hypothetical friends, half-siblings, and siblings with these different types of reproductive limitations. Genetic relatedness and reproductive limitations did not influence altruistic decision-making when the cost of altruism was low but did as the cost of altruism increased, with participants being more likely to help a sibling over a half-sibling and a half-sibling over a friend. Participants also indicated they were more likely to help a healthy (control) person over people with a reproductive limitation. Of the three types of reproductive limitations, functional limitations had the strongest effect on altruistic decision-making, indicating that people were less likely to help those who exhibit abnormal social behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-252
Number of pages19
JournalEvolutionary Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Altruism
  • Inclusive fitness
  • Reproductive limitations


Dive into the research topics of 'Altruism and reproductive limitations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this