Socioeconomic status moderates age differences in empathic concern

Tianyuan LI, Pok Man SIU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives: Older age has been found to relate to a higher level of empathic concern and prosocial tendencies in many studies, but there are also studies that found contradictory results. To fully understand the phenomenon, we propose that socioeconomic status (SES) is an important factor to consider when examining differences in empathic concern and prosocial tendencies.
Method: Two studies with Hong Kong Chinese participants were conducted to test the moderating effect of SES on the relationship between age and empathic concern. Both studies assessed participants’ age, SES, empathic concern, and background information, while Study 2 included different indicators of prosocial tendencies as well.
Results: SES consistently moderated age differences in empathic concern in the two studies. The positive association between age and empathic concern was only significant for individuals with low SES, but not those with high SES. Study 2 further revealed that the positive indirect effects from age to prosocial tendencies through a higher level of empathic concern were only significant for individuals with low SES as well.
Discussion: The results highlighted the importance to consider contextual factors when studying age-related differences. Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Societyof America. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Early online dateJun 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jun 2019

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Social Class
Hong Kong

Citation

Li, T., & Siu, P.-M. (2019). Socioeconomic status moderates age differences in empathic concern. Journals of Gerontology Series B. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbz079

Keywords

  • Affective empathy
  • Prosocial
  • Altruism
  • Social class
  • Life span