Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


This research investigated the relationship between altruism and dishonesty as they were affected by appearance of the perceived victim, location of the experiment, monetary value, and sex of the potential helper. To determine this relationship, a field experimental procedure was used in which a female student confederate, either well-dressed or casually dressed, dropped either a half-dollar or quarter while approaching, a subject (total number of subjects was 64 males and 64 females). The subject was either a student walking through a college campus or an adult citizen walking through a section of a business district. An observer recorded whether the subject picked the coin up and returned it to the confederate (altruism), picket it and kept it (dishonesty), or ignored the dropped coin (apathy). / Based upon past research, it was predicted that the subjects located on campus would respond altruistically towards casually dressed confederates and dishonestly towards well-dressed confederates. The subjects located in the business district were expected to respond altruistically towards well-dressed confederates and dishonestly towards casually dressed confederates. It was also hypothesized that an interaction would occur between experimental location and monetary value, with dishonesty increasing with coin value in the business location and altruism increasing in the campus location. No sex differences were expected to occur with regard to the probability of the subject responding altruistically or dishonestly / the data was examined using Chi Square statistical analyses. The attire of the confederate did not significantly affect the subject’s response to the experimental situation. The majority of subjects returned the coin regardless of similarity in attire to the confederate. Altruism did increase with coin value on campus, but dishonesty did no increase in the business location. The majority of subjects in the business district returned the coin regardless of its value. Sex differences were obtained, with females either returning or keeping the coin, and males either returning or ignoring the coin. The results are discussed as being characteristic of the United States region in which the experiment was conducted.


Thomas T. Jackson

Date of Award

Fall 1985

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1985 Dana J. Fuller


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