A number of psychologists have suggested that human beings are mainly motivated by selfish interests. Despite the overwhelming evidence that exists in support of this idea, the issue is still debatable due to the isolated cases of selflessness portrayed by a myriad of people around the world. This paper explores the theoretical argument that human beings are motivated by selfish interests in everything they do and seeks to refute this theory using realistic and practical reasons.
As discussed in the above paragraph, it has been suggested by a number of psychologists that human beings are motivated by selfish reasons in everything they do. Psychologists therefore argue that when one does a good thing, he does so for some selfish reason that may not be known.
An example that they normally give is the argument that if a person forgoes something good for them while caring for an ailing friend, he/she is mainly motivated by the fact that he/she will get a good name out of it. He/she could also be motivated by the fact that, by doing so, he/she will be building a strong relationship with his/her friend. Another example is that of a person who gives out his clothing to the poor.
Psychologists argue that such a person will give those clothes because they are no longer useful to him/her and by giving them away, the poor will have helped him/her in disposing them. All these theories make a lot of sense but there are a number of cases where a selfish motivation cannot be determined (Samuelson 31). This means that, as much as the theory is applicable. It is not applicable in all cases.
Despite the fact that the theory set up by psychologists explaining the motivation to doing good makes some sense, there are a number of cases that are not in conformance with the stipulations of the theory. This implies that the theory is wrong and thus it should not be used since it gives a generalized account of goodness in human beings.
An example of a case that does not conform to this theory is the case of people who help other people in need without wanting to be refunded anything and without wanting to be publicly known for their goodness (Samuelson 27). That is, the people who help and do not want to be known for the good they have done.
Psychologists may argue that such a person helps in order to get the feeling of being capable of helping somebody in need but the argument does not make sense. This is because such people are usually motivated by the situation; which in this case is the need of the person they give the help to. It can thus be argued that these people give selflessly since they are motivated by the need, and they give help without the desire to be known for their goodness.
In spite of the controversy surrounding the issue of selfish goodness that is allegedly characteristic of people, real life experiences show that there are people who qualify to be termed as exceptions to this theory.
These people are the selfless people discussed in the above paragraphs and thus it is unfair to say that they are good for selfish reasons. The theory, therefore, depends on the generalization of a common occurrence and thus it should be declared void. Research shows that the theory is not 100% right when applied to all people.
Samuelson, Gregory. Motivation behind doing good: A psychological approach.
Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2009, pp. 23-35.