Adults are experiencing extended periods of healthy life after age 50, but cultural scripts for aging well remain few. Individuals who dedicate their later life to helping others, such as social innovators and social contributors (e.g., volunteers), show that the traditional retirement years create new opportunities to contribute to societal well-being. Their achievements elevate and inspire but also raise questions: How does their prosocial commitment impact the quality of their own day-to-day experience? Do their thoughts and feelings encourage or undermine persistence in prosocial activity and satisfaction with it? These questions will be addressed via an exemplar study of 200 older adults pursuing prosocial commitments: 100 social innovators¬¬––those who responded to a social problem by creating a program to address it¬¬––and 100 social contributors––those addressing a social problem through an already-existing organization or role. The experience sampling method or ESM (a means of describing a person’s real-life experience by collecting self-reports of thoughts, feelings, and actions in situ at random times throughout a week) will measure what they do and feel in daily life. A follow-up survey will be conducted one year later. We will contribute to the science of positive aging through scholarly conference presentations and journal articles. We will work with the nonprofit, Encore.org, to distribute the results via their network of interested individuals and organizations, and the general media.
Templeton.org is in English. Only a few pages are translated into other languages.