Original article:

Does theorizing on reciprocal altruism apply to the relationships of individuals with a spinal cord injury?

Evolutionary Psychology 10(5): 818-829 A. P. Buunk, University of Groningen and Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Netherlands, a.p.buunk@rug.nlRosario Zurriaga, Universidad de Valencia, IDOCAL, SpainPilar González, Universidad de Valencia, IDOCAL, Spain


From the perspective of reciprocal altruism, we examined the role of reciprocity in the close relationships of people inflicted with a spinal cord injury (SCI) (n = 70). We focused on the help receiver rather than on the help giver. Participants perceived more reciprocity in relationships with friends than in relationships with the partner and with family members. In these last relationships, perceptions of indebtedness were more prevalent than perceptions of deprivation. However, most negative feelings were evoked by a lack of reciprocity in partner relationships, followed by family relationships, and next by friendships. Moreover, depression was especially associated with a lack of perceived reciprocity in the relationships with family, and somewhat less with a lack of perceived reciprocity in the relationship with the partner. These results underline the importance of reciprocity in relationships, but suggest that reciprocity may be more, rather than less important in partner and family relationships.


reciprocity, spinal cord injury, depression

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Evolutionary Psychology - An open access peer-reviewed journal - ISSN 1474-7049 © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young; individual articles © the author(s)

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