Toronto Metropolitan University
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Giving vs. losing: age differences in decisions about charitable donations

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posted on 2021-05-24, 09:49 authored by Erika Sparrow
In addition to making decisions about gains and losses that affect only ourselves, often in life we make decisions that benefit others. Research on lifespan changes in motivation suggests that altruistic motives become stronger with age. However, few studies have explored the effect of age on decisions that affect others. The current study used a realistic financial decision making task involving choices for gains, losses, and donations. Each decision involved an intertemporal choice, in which the participant selected either a smaller-sooner or a larger-later option that could affect their bonus payout. Participants included 36 healthy younger adults (M = 25.1 years) and 36 healthy older adults (M = 70.4 years). Both age groups chose more larger-later donations than larger-later losses, but the magnitude of this effect was amplified in older relative to younger adults. These findings suggest that intertemporal choices may be sensitive to an age-related increase in altruistic motivation





  • Master of Arts


  • Psychology

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • Thesis

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