Empathy is a key ability of human beings to resonate with others’ thoughts and feelings and navigate the social world. Most research on empathy focuses on early life, children, adolescents, and young adults. Our research examines empathy in later life, when social experiences are more highly valued and place stronger impacts on health outcomes.
Studies conducted along these two lines of research used data from the Family Exchanges Study, the Daily Experiences and Well-being Study, the Midlife in the United States project, and the Health and Retirement Study.
Helping others has been associated with a variety of benefits to social relationships and health in later life. Our research examines older adults’ formal volunteering and also informal helping behaviors (i.e., support provided to close family and friends). We are especially interested in helping behaviors among older adults with health limitations (e.g., functional limitations).
Dyadic Study on Empathy in Caregiving
People living with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease have relatively preserved empathy and socioemotional skills and they may provide support to caregivers, rather than solely being recipients of care.
Our ongoing research examines empathy, social experiences, and well-being among older couples coping with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.