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Teachers College, Columbia University
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TC's Midlarsky Confirms Increased Altruism among the Elderly

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Elizabeth Midlarsky

Elizabeth Midlarsky


Do we become more altruistic as we get older and have less of our own life to protect?

TC’s Elizabeth Midlarsky, Professor of Psychology and Education, recently responded to that question on the Website “Science and Religion Today”, which each day poses an issue for an academic researcher.

Midlarsky’s answer:  

“As long as people have sufficient health and finances to meet their daily needs, they do seem to behave more altruistically as they grow older. Our research indicates that older adults (65 years plus) express the need to help others both for social reasons (they prefer to be engaged with others) and for altruistic reasons (they really want to be of help to others), and are willing to expend their own resources (time, money, effort) to do so.”

The editors of the site were prompted to ask about altruism among the elderly by accounts of older Japanese offering to take over cleanup work at the nuclear facility damaged in this past winter’s tsunami.


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