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Friendships, family relationships get better with age thanks to forgiveness, stereotypes
Date:6/25/2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Part of what makes those relationships so golden during the golden years is that people of all ages are more likely to forgive and respect one's elders, according to research from Purdue University.

"Older adults report better marriages, more supportive friendships and less conflict with children and siblings," said Karen Fingerman, the Berner-Hanley Professor in Gerontology, Developmental and Family Studies. "While physical and cognitive abilities decline with age, relationships improve. So what is so special about old age? We found that the perception of limited time, willingness to forgive, aging stereotypes and attitudes of respect all play a part. But it's more than just about how younger people treat an older person, it's about how people interact."

Fingerman and Susan T. Charles, an associate professor of psychology and social behavior ?at the University of California in Irvine, published their research in this month's Current Directions in Psychological Science.

This article is based on their earlier work, including research showing that older adults are less confrontational than younger adults when they are upset. The article also builds on studies published in 2009 in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and in 2008 in the journal Psychology and Aging.

One study compared young adults, ages 22-35, and older adults, ages 65-77, by asking the participants to respond to several stories about personal interactions. The study participants heard stories about how an adult committed a social transgression, such as rudeness towards a waitress or ignoring property boundaries. Half the subjects read the story with the offending character portrayed as an older adult and the other half read the same story, but the offending character was portrayed as a younger adult. When the offending character was elderly, participants of all ages indicated that the person who was offended would avoi
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Contact: Amy Patterson Neubert
apatterson@purdue.edu
765-494-9723
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert

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