Carol J. Getz

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Dr. David L. Nelson

Second Advisor

Dr. Doris A. Smith

Third Advisor

Dr. Dean R. Tyndall

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This study investigated altruism as a factor in productivity in elderly women. Eight groups of institutionalized elderly women (n = 33) stenciled personalized (initials) stationery. Groups were randomly assigned to either the non-altruistic condition or the altruistic condition; there was control for time of day and location of the activity. Subjects in the non-altruistic condition made stationery for themselves, while subjects in the altruistic condition made stationery for abused children living in an innercity. The number of pieces of stationery produced and the duration of time engaged in activity were recorded for each subject. Mann-Whitney U tests revealed that subjects in the altruistic condition made significantly more stationery (p <.01) and engaged significantly longer in activity (p <.05) than subjects in the non-altruistic condition. Discussed in the study are implications for the inclusion of altruism as an aspect of an activity for use in occupational therapy treatment. It is suggested that altruistic activities may be both meaningful and motivating to this population.