Age Differences in Emotional Experiences Associated With Helping and Learning at Work

Kevin Chi, Nilam Ram, Laura L. Carstensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drawing on socioemotional selectivity theory and goal theories of emotion, this study examined age differences in helping and learning activities at work and the emotional correlates of such activities. We hypothesized that older workers help colleagues more than younger workers and derive greater emotional benefits from helping; and that younger workers learn more often at work and derive greater emotional benefits from learning. Frequency of employees’ (N = 365; age 18–78 years) helping, learning, and emotional experience were monitored for 5 days using a modified day reconstruction method. We found that older workers engaged in helping more than younger workers and reported greater positive emotions from helping. Contrary to our hypothesis, younger and older workers engaged in learning activities at similar frequencies. However, in line with our hypothesis, learning was associated with more positive emotions for younger workers. Findings suggest thoughtful consideration of how to optimize work activities and practices that promote emotional well-being of both younger and older workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-400
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 8 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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