Why Are Older People Often So Responsible and Considerate Even When Their Future Seems Limited? A Systematic Review

Simon A. Moss, Samuel G. Wilson

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    Abstract

    Socioemotional selectivity theory assumes that older individuals tend to perceive their identity or life as limited in time and, therefore, prioritize meaningful relationships. Yet, other research shows that people who perceive their identity as limited in time tend to behave impulsively-contrary to the behavior of many older individuals. To redress this paradox, this article reports a systematic review, comprising 86 papers, that examined the consequences of whether individuals perceive their identity as limited or enduring. To reconcile conflicts in the literature, we propose that, before an impending transition, some individuals perceive their life now as dissociated from their future goals and, therefore, will tend to behave impulsively. Other individuals however, especially if older, tend to pursue a quest or motivation that transcends this transition, fostering delayed gratification, and responsible behavior.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)82-108
    Number of pages27
    JournalInternational journal of aging & human development
    Volume86
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

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