Cognitive skills in the charitable giving decisions of the elderly

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Charitable giving is a common, and easily measurable, form of prosocial behavior. It may also provide a unique cognitive challenge in that it often requires identifying with the needs of distant others. Using a sample of 331 cognitively normal seniors (mean age of 76), this study examined the relationship between charitable giving and scores on 18 different narrowly-focused cognitive tests. Only those cognitive tests involving spatial memory and drawing tasks were statistically significant in predicting the presence of charitable giving. This finding corresponds with neuroscience studies suggesting that spatial memory and socialemotional functions may involve related brain areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-573
Number of pages15
JournalEducational Gerontology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011


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