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Does Advanced Age Boost Altruism?

By Lauren Robison, 9:00 am on

Many people donate their time and money to helping others for a variety of reasons, including social status and guilt. However, not all charity is used to benefit the self. Researchers are becoming interested in finding the causes behind purely selfless charity, which is known as altruism. A 2016 study from the University of Oregon has used psychological theory, neuroscience equipment, and behavioral economics to determine that age is the most common factor behind pure altruism. The findings may be of interest to seniors and New Hampshire home care providers.

The study used 80 test subjects between the ages of 18 and 67 to find what demographics are more likely to exhibit signs of altruism. In the study, the subjects were given money and allowed to either keep it for themselves or give it away to charity. During the decision-making process, subjects were examined by an MRI to determine how their brains reacted to scenarios of either keeping the money or donating it. They were also psychologically analyzed to determine how their personality traits affected their decisions. 

Certain test subjects had the reward center of their brain highly activated when they considered giving the money away to charity. This revealed that many of the subjects got joy and pleasure from the idea of helping someone else, even if their good work was not recognized. This altruistic response was most common among subjects who were over the age of 45.

The researchers theorize that older people are more likely to enjoy charity because they have more life experiences. These life experiences may equip seniors with the understanding that improving the general good of the public is more desirable than serving their own purposes. The researchers behind the study hope to further study this subject to determine the reason why advanced age increases charitable acts and altruistic instincts.

You can be generous toward your senior loved one by hiring a reliable home care provider to look after him or her. Home Care Assistance is the leading provider of live-in and hourly home care in New Hampshire. Our reliable New Hampshire caregivers offer emotional support, cognitive stimulation, and physical assistance seniors need to live functional and independent lives. For more information, contact us at (603) 471-3004 today and set up a no-obligation consultation.