Do People Become More Selfless as They Age?
Ulrich Mayr: We found that the proportion of altruists — that is, those whose reward areas were more active when money went to the charity than to themselves — steadily increased with age, going from less than 25 percent through age 35 to around 75 percent among individuals 55 and older. Also, older participants tended to become more willing to give their money to charity or to volunteer in this experiment. And when assessing their personality characteristics through questionnaires, our group found that they exhibited traits such as agreeableness and empathy more strongly than younger participants. These observations align with growing evidence of more altruistic acts in the elderly.