CUP Undergraduate Research

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Health and Human Services



Degree Name

Psychology, BA

First Advisor

Reed Mueller, Ph.D.


The purpose of this meta-ethnography was to explore the theories surrounding human altruistic behavior. I began by selecting a series of empirical and theoretical sources for review. After reading the empirical materials, I summarized empirical studies within categories such as the observed psychological, biological, and social factors associated with altruism. I then reviewed the theoretical literature and established the similar trends in the discussion about the social application of altruism. The trends that I found were reciprocal altruism, the importance of small-group function in facilitating large-group function, and that group function is imperative for a successful future of humanity. After translating these trends amongst the theoretical sources, I discussed how the various aspects of the empirical review are compatible with the theoretical trends. I contend that reciprocal altruism was the most prominently recurring topic of discussion throughout both the empirical and theoretical reviews. I concluded by arguing that the active employment of altruism in interaction with strangers can have a lasting impact in a community and ultimately in a much larger population.

Included in

Psychology Commons