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date: 03 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

While older adults are frequently portrayed as incompetent, dependent, and a drain on societal resources, theory and research demonstrate that the elderly engage in diverse prosocial behaviors but that much of the prosocial capability of the elderly lies dormant. The authors present evidence in support of a model recognizing the powerful contributions made by the elderly to their families and communities. This contributory model of successful aging suggests that prosocial behavior by older adults is motivated by empathetic concern, religious obligation, and a sense of duty. Prosocial behavior is presented as a normative facet of old age that is conceived as a direct expression of the motivation to help future generations and society. The impacts of prosocial behavior on physical health, mental health, and mortality are considered. Because of the cross-disciplinary nature of this inquiry, the authors propose directions for future research intended to produce an integrative understanding at the micro, meso, and macro levels.

Keywords: prosocial behavior, elderly, altruism, voluntarism, philanthropy

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