Why Relationships Get Better with Age

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., June 28 (UPI) — The elderly have more supportive relationships with less conflict than younger couples because they are more apt to forgive, U.S. researchers say.

Karen Fingerman of Purdue University and Susan T. Charles of the University of California, Irvine, said their study involved young adults, ages 22-35, and older adults, ages 65-77, who were asked to respond to several stories about personal interactions such as stories about how an adult committed a social transgression, such as rudeness toward a waitress or ignoring property boundaries.

Half of the study participants heard stories of the offending character portrayed as an older adult and the other half read the same story with the offending character as a younger adult.

The study, published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, found if the offending character was elderly all the study participants indicated elderly person would avoid conflict and not react.

“When there is a negative interaction, younger people are generally more aggressive and confrontational than older people are,” Fingerman said in a statement. “But younger people often are more accommodating to older people when there is a negative interaction.”

In addition, as they age people get better at regulating their emotions when something upsets them and older people often have more opportunity to select who they want to associate with, Fingerman added.

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