ERIC Number: ED305523
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1988-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Who Helps? Attitudes and Characteristics of Elderly Altruists.
Midlarsky, Elizabeth; Kahana, Eva
In contrast to the view of the elderly as helpless and handicapped, some older adults may engage in helping activities and place considerable importance on this involvement. This study examined the characteristics which may distinguish those elderly persons engaged in the highest amounts of altruistic activity from those reporting lesser degrees of involvement. Respondents were 400 persons between the ages of 65 and 100; 200 were randomly selected from the general community, and 200 came from age-homogeneous apartment complexes. Subjects were classified as high helpers or low helpers based on their responses to altruism scales. Three stepwise discriminant function analyses were performed to predict membership in the two helper groups--one for the entire sample and one for each residential subsample. A general finding was that the altruistic respondents, in contrast to less helpful subjects, expressed a high degree of willingness to incur costs or risks. Elderly altruists were more likely than the less helpful elderly to perceive themselves as healthy; they possessed personality and motivational characteristics associated with altruism in other age groups, including social responsibility and internal locus of control; and they appeared to experience high degrees of psychosocial well-being. Results of the separate analyses indicated that the study variables accurately classified 87.9% of the cases for the total sample, 92.8% of the senior residents, and 83.4% of elderly respondents in the sample of persons in independent living. (Author/NB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Gerontological Society (41st, San Francisco, CA, November 18-22, 1988).