Survival of the Nicest: How Altruism Made Us Human and Why it Pays to Get Along

Author(s): Stefan Klein

Social Thought

The phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ conjures an image of the
most cutthroat individuals rising to the top. But Stefan Klein, author
of the international bestseller The Science of Happiness, makes the startling assertion that the key to achieving lasting personal and societal success lies in helping others.

Klein argues that altruism is in fact our defining characteristic:
natural selection favoured those early humans who cooperated in groups.
With their survival more assured, our altruistic ancestors were free to
devote brainpower to developing intelligence, language, and culture —
our very humanity. As Klein puts it, ‘We humans became first the
friendliest and then the most intelligent apes.’

To build his persuasive case for how altruistic behaviour made us
human — and why it pays to get along — Klein brings together an
extraordinary array of material: current research on genetics and the
brain, economics, social psychology, behavioural and anthropological
experiments, history, and modern culture. Ultimately, his groundbreaking
findings lead him to a vexing question: if we’re really hard-wired to
act for one another’s benefit, why aren’t we all getting along?

Klein believes we’ve learned to mistrust our generous instincts because success is so often attributed to selfish ambition. In Survival of the Nicest,
he invites us to rethink what it means to be the ‘fittest’ as he shows
how caring for others can protect us from loneliness and depression,
make us happier and healthier, reward us economically, and even extend
our lives.


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This revelatory tour de force by an acclaimed and internationally bestselling science writer upends our understanding of "survival of the fittest"-and invites us all to think and act more altruistically.

'[A] mind-bending book ... if there is a science to winning over readers, Klein has surely mastered it ... The wealth of knowledge here is astounding.' - Publishers Weekly, starred review 'This wonderful book could be read as a scientific explanation for a moral imperative to be kind to others. But it is so much more! Stefan Klein, an enticing storyteller, marshals the evidence for the value of altruism - not only to one's family but, much more interestingly, to one's self and one's tribe. Altruism is truly contagious!' - Roald Hoffman, Nobel Laureate, poet, and Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters Emeritus, Cornell University 'A scholarly tour de force about why generosity makes good sense, *Survival of the Nicest* is also compulsively readable. Klein argues convincingly that helping others is one of the best things we can do for ourselves.' - Elizabeth Svoboda, author of What Makes a Hero?: The Surprising Science of Selflessness 'A thought-provoking and comprehensive review of the research on altruism, *Survival of the Nicest* validates humanistic principles and has far-reaching implications for today's world - especially for US politics and culture. An inspiration!' - Rebecca Hale, president, American Humanist Association, and co-owner of 'An important contribution to the field of altruism and altruistic behavior and to a better and nicer world. I highly recommend this book.' - Samuel P. Oliner, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Humboldt State University, and founder and director, The Altruistic Personality and Prosocial Behavior Institute 'In Survival of the Nicest, Stefan Klein poses three questions central to social science and ethics: (1) How is unselfishness possible? (2) What moves us to help others? And (3) why are some people more helpful than others? His wide-ranging answers to these questions suggest that altruism is born into us and that selflessness actually both makes us happy and will transform the world.' - Kristen Renwick Monroe, Chancellor's Professor, University of California, Irvine, and author of The Heart of Altruism 'This eloquent and persuasive book shows why in life, like in the movies, the nice guy always wins.' - Stephen Cave, author of Immortality

Stefan Klein, considered one of the most influential science writers in Europe, has written for many of Germany's leading newspapers and magazines. He was science editor of _Der Spiegel_, a leading German news magazine, from 1996 - 1999, a staff writer with _Geomagazine_ from 1999 - 2000, and is now a freelance writer in Berlin. He has interviewed many of the world's most prominent scientists, including Antonio Damasio, Stephen Jay Gould, V.S. Ramachandran, Craig Venter, Ian Wilmut, and E.O. Wilson. In 1998 he won the Georg von Holtzbrink Prize for Scientific Journalism. He studied physics and philosophy at the universities of Munich and Grenoble and completed his PhD in biophysics in Freiburg. He is also the author of the international bestseller _The Science of Happiness_ which has been published in more than twenty-eight countries. He lives in Berlin and can be found online at

General Fields

  • : 9781922247629
  • : Scribe Publications
  • : Scribe Publications
  • : June 2014
  • : 234mm X 153mm
  • : Australia
  • : August 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Stefan Klein
  • : Paperback
  • : 714
  • : en
  • : 155.232
  • : 272