Altruism vs Empathy: Difference and Comparison

Altruism and Empathy are two different kinds of feelings of human beings. Altruism is a feeling of human beings that means concern for others without any selfish thoughts.

Empathy, on the other hand, is a feeling of putting yourself in the shoes of others to understand them.

Altruism is a feeling of human being that enable us to understand the difficulties and help them without any concern of the return benefits. It is more like a selfless act of helping others and making them happy.

This is a selfless act that only concerns the person in need and makes them happy in the process.

Empathy is much of a feeling which makes us understand exactly what the person opposite to us is feeling. It is much more understanding rather than helping.

It is not about sympathy but rather is about understanding the other person and their situation. It is a very important feeling, just like Altruism.

Key Takeaways

  1. Altruism involves selfless actions or behavior intended to benefit others, while empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings.
  2. Altruism focuses on giving or helping, at personal cost, whereas empathy emphasizes emotional connection and the capacity to put oneself in another’s shoes.
  3. Both altruism and empathy contribute to prosocial behavior, but empathy is a precursor to altruistic actions by fostering understanding and compassion towards others.

Altruism vs Empathy

The difference between Altruism and Empathy is that they represent two different emotions or feelings of a human being. Altruism represents a feeling of helping others without expecting any return favour, while Empathy means understanding a situation or acknowledging the problem as a problem.

Altruism vs Empathy

Altruism according to defined as a concern that is shown to others for their well beings and good. It can be said to be a feeling which is different from sympathy, compassion or empathy.

It is a feeling of selfless concern for well being of others. It represents a section of the people who gives a helping hand without any return benefits.

Empathy means a situation when a person understands the opposite person. It is a situation when a person understands a situation, and the problem another person is facing can be said as the feeling of Empathy.

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It is more about understanding the circumstances of the opposite person and even their pain.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAltruismEmpathy
Phoneticsɛmpəθi altruːɪz(ə)m
OriginFrom a Latin word alteri huci from a Greek word empathos
MeaningIt means to help someone without any expectation of return benefits. It means to understand a person’s problems or pain or circumstances.
ResultIt results in kind action and helps for others. It results in clearing the situation more clearly of a person.
ConsequencesThis is the consequence of being selfless and kind. This is not being kind or selfless but rather being reasonable and understanding.

What is Altruism?

It is a philanthropical way of helping someone else without expecting anything in return. It is a situation in which a person helps others.

It can be helping your neighbour or your family members or even a stranger. It is a selfless act done towards someone without expecting any return favour.

The word is derived from the Latin word ‘alteri huic’, the Italian word ‘altrui’ and the french word ‘altruisme’. The word Altruism came in mid 19th century.

For example, when a person helps another person by giving blood when needed or when a person risks their lives to save the lives of others.

When a person or a friend give their kidney to another person or friend just to keep them alive or to help them through the disease, then this can be said as Altruism. This donor is considering helping the other person without expecting anything in return.

This person is helping others just to keep them well. This is what Altruism represent.

Altruism is represented by a person, for example, who helps another person in need of money by depositing money in his or her account. There is no expectation of refund or returning of the favour to them back, but still, they help.

When a person helps by their selfless nature is the act which Altruism represent.

What is Empathy?

Empathy is a word that represents a person’s psychology of understanding another person completely. It can be represented by a situation where parents understand their child and the problems they are facing as a teenager.

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The word means to understand the opposite person and their situation.

When a boss of a company acknowledge his or her employees and understand their problems. When he or she puts himself or herself in their shoes and completely understand their circumstances, this situation is represented by the word Empathy. 

This word means to put yourself in someone else shoes to understand what circumstances they are facing or what problem they facing. This word is derived from the Greek word em-pathos, which changed to another Greek word, later empatheia.

It later mixed with the German word Einfuhlung to form the word Empathy around the early 20th century.

It is a feeling, when acquired, helps you understand the opposite person more fluently. It makes a person act more compassionately towards the opposite person.

It encourages to give a kind gesture to the opposite person and even encourages to help them as you understand their real problem.

Main Differences Between Altruism and Empathy

  1. Altruism means to help others with selfless nature, while Empathy means understanding the opposite person.
  2. Altruism is a kind gesture towards others, while Empathy is a feeling which may lead to a kind gesture.
  3. Altruism was derived from a Latin word, while Empathy was derived from a Greek word.
  4. Altruism is an act or an action done to someone else. Empathy is a psychological feeling that means understanding someone.
  5. Altruism, for example, can be said as an act of giving money or helping others, while Empathy means understanding others and their situations as well.
  6. Altruism comes from a good heart or good nature and is above feelings like sympathy or compassion, while Empathy is just about understanding the other person and their pain in a real sense.
Difference Between Altruism and Empathy

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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