Older people really are kinder! Elderly are more likely than youngsters to do things that benefit others – including social distancing and giving to charity, study finds
- Older people are more likely to do things that benefit others, new research finds
- That includes social distancing during Covid pandemic and donating to charity
- Younger people were more likely to donate to international charities than elderly
- Women found to be kinder than men, and wealthier people gave less to charity
Older people are more likely than younger people to do things that benefit others, such as social distancing during the Covid pandemic and making charitable donations, new research suggests.
Women in general were found to be kinder than men, while wealth appeared to have a negative effect on philanthropy, with those who perceived themselves as being better off donating less to good causes.
There is also a big divide in the types of charities age groups prefer to help, according to the researchers.
Younger people are more likely to donate to international charities, while older adults preferred to give to causes within their own country.
Older people are more likely to do things that benefit others, such as social distancing during the Covid pandemic and making charitable donations, new research suggests (stock image)
People really DO want to be kind to each other even if it costs them something
People really do want to be kind to each other.
Researchers found that people overwhelmingly choose to be generous to others, even if it is at the cost of themselves and regardless of external motives.
The study, conducted online, asked participants to give money to other people, which the team assumed would lead to subjects anticipating something in return for their generosity.
However, the experiment revealed volunteers were largely willing to hand strangers cash without any motivation behind it – just the notion of helping the individual.
Read more: People want to be kind to each other even if it costs them, study says
The study, which was led by the University of Birmingham, saw experts analyse data from a global survey of 46,576 people aged 18 to 99, across 67 countries.
It was carried out between April and May 2020 and used to examine whether age can predict the amount of social distancing someone was willing to adhere to during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as their willingness to donate to hypothetical charities.
The authors found that age did predict kinder behaviour on both measures, with increased levels of distancing and donations amongst older adults compared to their younger counterparts.
‘Older age was associated with greater prosocial behavior on two robust, complementary and acutely relevant measures,’ the authors, led by Dr Jo Cutler, wrote in their paper.
‘However, age was also associated with more in-group focus in who receives help. Older adults donated more to national, but less to international, hypothetical charities than younger adults.’
They added: ‘The serious risk to older adults from Covid-19 may have prevented in-person prosocial behaviors such as volunteering.
‘However, older adults were particularly willing to help others during a global crisis in terms of compliance with public health measures and support for charities working in their country.’
Perceived risk was not significantly associated with social distancing, the researchers said.
Nor did the severity of Covid-19 in a particular country alter the fact that older people were more willing to adhere to public health measures than their younger counterparts.
Younger people are more likely to donate to international charities, while older adults preferred to give to causes within their own country (stock image)
Meanwhile, those surveyed were found to give twice as much to national charities as international non-profit organisations, and this desire to do so increased with age.
For every increase of 16 years in age, donations increased by 1.5 per cent, the researchers said.
‘Strikingly, subjective wealth had a negative effect: those who perceived themselves as wealthier donated less,’ they wrote.
The authors said they hoped their study would have important implications for increasing compliance with public health measures, as well as predicting the social and economic impacts of aging populations.
‘Our findings have vital implications for predicting the social and economic impacts of aging populations, increasing compliance with public health measures and encouraging charitable donations,’ they concluded.
The research has been published in the journal Nature Aging.