Charitable Elders

Why older people are more charitable is not because they have money, but because they become more altruistic as they age. A person who studied altruism, Leonardo Christov-Moore, a postdoctoral fellow at the Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, states: “Your odds of experiencing suffering and others’ suffering goes up the longer that you’re around.” Benevolence is the result! Older people are less self-centered as they age and MRI scans of their brains show this. In a study, scans took place while volunteers passively observed money going either to charity or to themselves. The volunteers were university employees at the University of Oregon in Eugene and ranged in age from 18 to 67. The scans showed different levels of activity in the areas of the brain related to reward. Volunteers over 45 showed that the brain’s reward areas tended to become more active when they saw money going to charity, while the younger participants had the brain’s reward areas more active when they received the money themselves. “It’s not their money, so any pleasure they might derive from the scenario in which a charity received the money would be purely altruistic,” emphasized Ulrich Mayr, chair of psychology at the University of Oregon and author of the study. Not surprisingly, more than half of all donations to charity are made by people over 60. From: AARP, October 2016.

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