Both the unconscious self-serving motivation and the conscious altruistic intention are components of altruism.
Altruism is one of the mature ego defense mechanisms.
Mature ego defense mechanisms are commonly found among emotionally healthy adults. They are conscious processes, adapted through the years in order to optimize success in human society. Other mature ego defense mechanisms are sublimation, anticipation, humor, and suppression.
People using this defense mechanism are alleviating negative feelings via unsolicited generosity, which provides a sense of gratification.
Example: A mafia member makes a large donation to charity.
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