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Faculty List

Samuel P. Oliner

PhD, California-Berkeley, 1972
Altruism, Race/Ethnic/Minority Relations

The Altruistic Personality and Prosocial Behavior Institute

This research-based institute studies specific examples of heroic and conventional altruism. The institute has completed studies on people who risked their lives to save others in Nazi-occupied Europe, hospice volunteers, rescuers in the 1992 Los Angeles uprising and the social psychology of hate groups.

Birthplace: Gorlice, Poland


  • Ph.D., 1973, University of California, Berkeley
  • M.A., 1963, San Francisco State University
  • B.A., 1958, Brooklyn College

Special Competencies:

  • Race and Ethnic Relations Minorities in Eastern
  • Collective Behavior Europe and USSR
  • Social Movements Altruism
  • The Holocaust Social Change

Linguistic Competencies:

  • Polish
  • German
  • Yiddish
  • English

Residence in Other Countries:

  • Poland, 16 years, 1930-1946
  • England, 5 years
  • Korea, 18 months
  • Germany, 6 months
  • France, 6 weeks
  • Japan, 5 months
  • Holland, 2 months
  • Italy, 1 month
  • Russia, 1 month
  • Denmark, 1 month

Major Research Interest:

  • Altruism, Heroism, and Race and Ethnic Relations from a Global Perspective.

Grants and Research Awards:

  • 1973 Humboldt Foundation Grant, to found the Humboldt Journal of Social Relations
  • 1973 Research Grant, Humboldt Foundation, for the project "Student Theft"
  • 1974 Research Grant, Humboldt Foundation, for the project "Soviet Minority Problems"
  • 1976-80 Research Grant, Humboldt Foundation, for the project "Altruism in Nazi-Occupied Europe"
  • 1983 Research Grant, The Slawson Fund of the American Jewish Committee to begin the research project on rescue behavior in Nazi-occupied Europe
  • 1984 Research Grant, Revson Foundation
  • 1984 Research Grant, Blaustein Foundation
  • 1993 Research Grant, The Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management at the University of San Francisco
  • 1993 Research Grant, Jacob Burns Endowment in Ethics
  • 1990 Scholar of the Year Award, Humboldt State University
  • 1996. Research Grant, Anti-Defamation League of B'Nai B'Rith, for project "Racism
  • and anti-Semitism In Rural America"
  • 1998 Research Grant, Blaustein Foundation
  • 2001 Research Grant, Fetzer Institute

Teaching Positions

  • 1963-67 Instructor, Oakland Community College
  • 1971-74 Assistant Professor, Humboldt State University
  • 1975-80 Associate Professor, Humboldt State University
  • 1980 to Present: Professor, Humboldt State University

Undergraduate and Graduate Courses Taught

  • Sociology of Altruism and Compassion
  • Conflict and Altruism
  • The Holocaust and other Genocides
  • Anti-Semitism
  • Race, Ethnicity and Gender in a Cross-national Perspective
  • Social Movements and Collective Behavior
  • Altruism: The Antidote to a Fragmented Community

Research Projects

  • 1962 "Law and Politics as Factors in Discrimination and Prejudice Towards Jews in the USSR and Poland" (M.A. thesis)
  • 1970 to 1973 "Political and Social Attitudes of Black and Jewish Businessmen" (Ph.D. Dissertation)
  • 1973 "Student Theft"
  • 1974 "Soviet Minority Problems"
  • 1977 "Altruism in Nazi-Occupied Europe"
  • 1978 to Present: "Rescue Behavior in Nazi-Occupied Europe"
  • 1996 to 1998 "Racism and anti-Semitism In Rural America"
  • 1997 to Present: "Altruistic Behavior: A Focus on Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe, Carnegie Heroes and Hospice Volunteers"

Professional Responsibilities

  • 1973 Article referee, Berkeley Journal of Sociology
  • 1973 to Present: Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Humboldt Journal of Social Relations
  • 1975 Article referee, Contemporary Sociology
  • 1976 Board of Directors, Nationalities Papers
  • 1978 Research Director, Institute for Righteous Acts
  • 1982 to Present: Founder and Project Director, Altruistic Personality and Prosocial Behavior Institute

Publications, Paper Presentations and Invited Lectures:

  • 1973 "Student Theft—Crime or Protest?" Humboldt Journal of Social Relations 1:29-35 (with M. Manel).
  • 1974 Meetings of the Pacific Sociological Association, Victoria, B.C.
  • 1975 Meetings of the Pacific Sociological Association, San Diego, CA
  • 1976 "Sorokin's Contribution to American Sociology" Nationalities Papers 5:125-51
  • 1976 "The Non-Russian Peoples in the USSR: An Unsolved Problem." The Ukrainian Quarterly 32:261-85
  • 1976 Review of "Black Neighbors." By George K. Hesslink. Contemporary Sociologist 5:55-7
  • 1978 Meetings of the Pacific Sociological Association, Spokane, WA (Organizer and Chair, Symposium on Race and Ethnic Relations in Cross-Cultural Perspectives)
  • 1978 Contempt for Oppressor: A Mechanism for Minority Survival" California Sociologist 1:39-57
  • 1979 Meetings of the Pacific Sociological Association, Anaheim, CA (Organizer and Chair, Symposium on Ethnic Nationalism in the Communist World)
  • 1979 Review of "Sociology of Whom," by A.M. Lee. Humboldt Journal of Social Relations 7:125-7
  • 1980 Meetings of the Pacific Sociological Association, San Francisco, CA (Organizer and Chair, Symposium on Sociological Perspectives on the Holocaust)
  • 1980 "Nationalism and the Power of the Catholic Church in Poland" Nationalities Papers 8:53-66
  • 1980 Helped revise Richard T. Schaefer's textbook titled Racial and Ethnic Groups.
  • 1982 "The Heroes of the Nazi Era: A Plea for Recognition" Reconstructionist, Vol. XXVIII, June 1982
  • 1983 Meetings of the Pacific Sociological Association, San Jose, CA, on Altruism
  • 1983 "Nationalities and Dissidents: A Persistent Problem." Humboldt Journal of Social Relations 10:19-61
  • 1984 Meetings of the Conference on Rescuers of Holocaust, Washington, D.C.
  • 1984 Preface to "The Final Solution to the Jewish Question: Mass Murder or Gas Chamber Lie," by Ludwig Rosenthal. Magnes Memorial Museum, Berkeley
  • 1985 Meetings of the International Society of Political Psychology, Washington, D.C.
  • 1985 Meetings of the American Psychological Association, Los Angeles, CA.
  • 1985 Preface to The Flowers From My Mother's Garden, Judah Magnes Memorial Museum, Berkeley
  • 1986 Meetings of Third European Conference on Personality, Gdansk, Poland
  • 1986 Restless Memories: Recollections of the Holocaust Years. San Francisco: Judah Magnes Memorial Museum, Berkeley.
  • 1986 The Status of Race and Ethnic Relations in the Soviet Union: The Myth & Realities, Jay Sigler, Ed. The Greenwood Press.
  • 1987 Meetings of the International Society of Political Psychology, San Francisco, CA
  • 1987 "Rescuers of Jews During the Nazi Holocaust: A study in Altruism." Social Science Journal Vol. 24 Issue 2.
  • 1987 "Roots of Heroism and Prosocial Behavior." In the proceedings of the Italian American Conference, Boston.
  • 1988 The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe, The Free Press, 1988; Co-author Pearl M. Oliner.
  • 1988 "Meaning of Rescue to Non-Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust", a paper to be presented at Pacific Psychological Association with co-author Pearl Oliner.
  • 1989 "Extensivity and Altruism", in "Remembering the Future." Co-author Dr. Pearl Oliner, Pergamon Press.
  • 1989 Righteous People in the Holocaust, co-author Dr. Pearl Oliner, Editor Israel Charney.
  • 1989 The Roots of Altruism, co-author Dr. Pearl Oliner, Published by the American Jewish Committee.
  • 1989 An Essay Book Review. Essay on Arcadins Kahan, Essays in Jewish Social and Economic History, The University of Chicago Press, International Journal of Comparative Sociology, XXIX (1988).
  • 1989 Altruism and Peace: The Some Proportions Based on Gender and Cross-Cultural Comparison. Co-author Dr. Pearl Oliner
  • 1989 Extensivity and Altruism: A Conceptual Elaboration and its Relationship to Gender. Co-author Dr. Pearl Oliner
  • 1989 Roots of Altruism, invited keynote address for educators, psychologists and historians, sponsored by The American Jewish Committee.
  • 1990 Altruism: A Lesson from the Holocaust. Invited keynote address, The Skirball Institute for American Values, Los Angeles, January 24, 1990.
  • 1990 "The Roots of Altruism", Co-author Dr. Pearl Oliner, Published in Shofar, Winter.
  • 1991 Altruism: Antidote to Human Conflict, Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, Vol 2.
  • 1991 "Altruism: Antidote to War and Human Antagonism", in Politics and Psychology: Contemporary Psychodynamic Perspectives, edited by Joan Offerman-Zuckerberg (Plenum Press, 1991).
  • 1991 Conventional Altruism: A study of Hospice Volunteers.
  • 1992 Risk-taking in Hostile Settings: Rescuers of Jews during the Nazis. Presented at Taking Risks in Hostile Settings Conference, Cleveland, Ohio, April 2.
  • 1992 Embracing the Other: Philosophical, Psychological and Historical Aspects of Altruism. Co-editors Pearl Oliner, L. Baron, R. Blum, D. Krebs, and M. Z. Smolenska, New York University Press.
  • 1992 Sharing Moral Values. Paper presented at conference in San Rafael, California, sponsored by the Foundation for Rescuers.
  • 1992 Italian Rescuers of Jews: Courage in a Different Time, Presented at Italians and Jews: Rescue and Aid During the Holocaust, sponsored by The National Italian American Foundation, Washington DC, October 25-26.
  • 1992 Book review, Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism, by Alexander Stille (Summit Books,1991)
  • 1993 So That Others May Live: A Psycho-historical Study of Heroic Jewish Rescue in Nazi Occupied Europe, The William Bachner Story. Rider College, Lawrence Hill, New Jersey.
  • 1993 Book Review, Holocaust Odyssey of Daniel Bennahmias: Sondercommando, by Rebecca Fromer.
  • 1993 Book Review, The History and Sociology of Genocide: An Analysis and Case Studies, by Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn. Yale University Press.
  • 1993 William Bachner: Jewish Hero of the Holocaust, co-authored with Kathleen M. Lee.
  • 1994 Christian Rescuers of Jews: A Legacy of Moral Courage, in The Moment, January.
  • 1994 Book Review: The Uprooted: A Hitler Legacy, by Dorit B. Whiteman.
  • 1995 Toward a Caring Society, Co-author Dr. Pearl Oliner, Praeger Publisher.
  • 1995 Critical review of A Different Way of Seeing Things: Altruism Self Interest Perspective, by Kristen Renwick Monroe, Princeton University.
  • 1996 "Sorokin's Vision of Altruistic Love as a Bridge to Human Consensus." Co-author, Paul Crosbie. Pp. 201-214 in Sorokin and Civilization: A Centennial Assessment. Joseph B. Ford, et al (editors). New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Books.
  • 1996 Book Review, Fear and Hope: Three Generations of the Holocaust, by Dan Bar-On, Harvard University Press.
  • 1996 Book Foreword, The Urge to Live, by June Sutz Brott. Magnes Memorial Museum.
  • 1996 Who Shall Live: The Wilhelm Bachner Story. Co-author Kathleen Lee. Academy Chicago Publishers.
  • 1997 Co-editor with Phillip T. Gay of Race, Ethnicity and Gender: A Global Perspective. Kendall/Hunt Publishing.
  • 1998 "Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust: A Portrait of Moral Courage." Chapter in The Holocaust and History. Michael Berenbaum and Abraham Peck (Editors). A Project of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. University of Illinois Press.
  • 1998 Co-author with Pearl M. Oliner of "Rescuers of Jews in Nazi-Europe" in the Encyclopedia of Genocide, Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide, Israel.
  • 1998 Chaired and participated in sessions titled The Holocaust and Righteous Gentiles, Altruism and Rescuers, and Rescuing in Other Countries at the 28th Annual Scholars Conference on The Holocaust and Churches, University of Washington at Seattle.
  • 1998 Altruism and the Holocaust. Presented at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, April 6.
  • 1998 Reviewer for "An Examination of the Effects of Residential and Church Integration Upon Racial Attitudes, for Sociological Perspectives.
  • 1998 Co-author with Pearl M. Oliner of "The Altruistic Personality: Concern into Action". Chapter published in Psychology is Social, 4th edition. Edward Krupat, Simon and Schuster.
  • 1998 Festschrift for Horst-Klaus Hofmann, Christian on the Offensive, Reichelshein, Germany.
  • 1999 Interview by KUSP Radio, Santa Cruz, CA. Subject: Born to be Good, with Louis A. Gottschalk of U.C. Irvine.
  • 1999 Extraordinary Acts of Ordinary People: Faces of Heroism and Altruism. Presented at Templeton Conference: Empathy, Altruism and Agape: Perspectives on Love in Science and Religion, at M.I.T., Boston, September 30 - October 3.
  • 1999 Book Review: Marcus, Robert. 1999. Autonomy in the Extreme Situation: Bruno Bettelheim, the Nazi Concentration Camps and the Mass Society. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
  • 2000 Narrow Escapes. Paragon House.
  • 2000 Heroic Altruism: Heroic and Moral Behaviour in a Variety of Settings. Presented at Remember for the Future Conference 2000, at Oxford, England, July 16-23. Published in Remembering for the Future: The Holocaust in an age of Genocide. Palgrave Publishing, Vol. 2: Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, Great Britain.
  • 2000 Interview on National Public Radio. Infinite Mind Program. August.
  • 2000 Book Review: Blumenthal, David R. The Banality of Good and Evil: Moral Lessons from the Shoah and Jewish Tradition. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
  • 2000 Book Review: Melson, Robert. 2000. False Papers: Deception and Survival in the Holocaust. Urbana, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • 2001 Presentation: What Price Courage? Striving to be Human in a Place Devoid of Humanity. Montclair, NJ, April 20.
  • 2001 Presentation: Yom Hashoa: It’s Universal Moral Significance. April 22, San Mateo, CA.
  • 2001 "Extraordinary Acts of Ordinary People: Faces of Heroism and Altruism." Book chapter in Altruism and Altruistic Love: Science, Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue. Stephen Post, Lynn Underwood, Jeffrey Schloss, and William Hurlbut, editors. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
  • 2001 Manuscript review: Social Psychology of Good and Evil. Arthur G. Miller, editor.
  • 2001 Presentation to Presbyterian College, Clinton, South Carolina, October 31: "Rescuers During the Holocaust: The Implications of their Acts for Moral Education."
  • 2001 Published article: "Altruism: The Hero in Everyone." YES! Magazine, Bainbridge Island, Washington.
  • 2002 Extraordinary Acts of Ordinary People: Faces of Heroism and Altruism. Westview Press. In progress.

Since 1988 I have presented over 45 different talks, not only in the community, but at several universities, including the University of Toronto, University of Wyoming, Purdue University, University of New Mexico, Moscow State University, Baylor University, Stephen Austin University, San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland, and Presbyterian College.

I have appeared on national television programs, including Oprah and Sonia Live.