Older adults most likely to make the effort to help others:
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Older adults are more willing to make an effort to help others than younger adults, according to new research from the University of Birmingham.

In the study, the research team tested a group of 95 adults aged between 18 and 36 and a group of 92 adults aged 55-85. Each participant made 150 choices about whether or not to grip a handheld dynamometer—a device for measuring grip strength or force—with 6 different levels of how hard they had to grip. Before the experiment, the researchers measured each person's maximum grip strength, so they could make sure that the effort people had to put in was the same for everyone, and not affected by how strong people were.

For each decision, participants were told whether they would be working to gain money for themselves, or for another person. First, they were asked to decide whether they would be willing to put in the effort to gain money or not. If they accepted the offer they had to grip hard enough to get the money.

The results showed that when the task was easy, young and older adults were equally willing to work for others, but, when the task was more effortful older adults were more willing to work to help others. In contrast, younger adults were more selfish and were much more likely to put in higher levels of effort to benefit themselves.

The team also noticed a correlation between the willingness to put effort into tasks that benefited other people and positive feelings towards other people. But it was only in younger people that this 'warm glow' feeling also related to them completing tasks for themselves.

Increased prosociality in older people has important implications for human behavior and societal structure.

Psychological Science
Source: https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797620975781