Honors Theses


College of Arts and Sciences


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Chemistry


Department of Chemistry


Bachelor of Arts



Document Type

Honors Thesis


Depressive symptoms can influence a variety of individual factors, including altruism and empathy. The nature of that relationship, however, is poorly understood. Cross-sectional studies examining the empathetic and altruistic abilities of people with varying levels of depressive symptoms have produced mixed results, as both the magnitude and direction of any correlations between empathy or altruism and depression are varied. Thus, we aimed to examine the impact of depressive symptoms on self-report measures of altruistic behavior and empathy. Using the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptoms-Self Report (QIDS-SR) to measure depressive symptoms, the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) to measure empathy, and the Self-Report Altruism Scale (SRAS) to measure altruistic behavior, we administered a cross-sectional Qualtrics survey via Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) to 369 participants to investigate what relationship depressive symptoms had with empathy and/or altruistic behavior. Our findings suggest that overall empathy and altruistic behavior have no relationship with depressive symptoms, but individual subscales of the IRI, including the Perspective Taking Subscale (PTS), which demonstrated a negative relationship with depressive symptoms, and the Personal Distress Subscale (PDS), which demonstrated a positive relationship. These findings suggest that some empathy processes may suffer a deficit in depressed patients, and that further research into these relationships is needed.

Publication Date


First Advisor

McKinney, Clifford

Second Advisor

Winer, Samuel

Third Advisor

Collins, Amanda