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Altruism and Volunteerism

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Altruism is behavior that is primarily “other‐regarding,” in contrast to self‐centered or egoistic. Although the agent of altruism may benefit indirectly from altruism in so far as he or she experiences contentment and fulfillment in doing good for others, this does not diminish from the authenticity of altruistic motivation because neither reciprocal nor reputational gain is sought.

There are five reasons for benefits to older adults who engage in altruistic behavior: enhanced social integration; distraction from the agent's own problems; enhanced meaningfulness; increased perception of self‐efficacy and competence; and improved mood or more physically active lifestyle. Adult altruism (i.e., voluntary behavior that is “motivated by concern for the welfare of the other, rather than by anticipation of rewards”) has been associated with improved morale, self‐esteem, positive affect, and well‐being. The links between altruism and mental and physical health have been studied.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-33754-8_27
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Suggested Readings

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© 2008 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC

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Post, S.G. (2008). Altruism and Volunteerism. In: Loue, S.J., Sajatovic, M. (eds) Encyclopedia of Aging and Public Health. Springer, Boston, MA.

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