McEvoy, G. M., & Cascio, W. F. (1989). Cumulative evidence of the relationship between employee age and job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 74, 11–17.
as individuals age through their life course, they pass through a series of developmental stages which differ in terms of personality changes, needs, and motivations (see Erikson, 1950; Levinson, Darrow, Klein, Levinson, & McKee, 1978).
Levinson, D. J., Darrow, C. N., Klein, E. B., Levinson, M. H., & McKee, B. (1978). The season’s of a man’s life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf
Erikson, E. H. (1950). Childhood and society. New York: Norton
Empirical research has supported the idea that as individuals age and progress through work roles, they often undergo systematic psychological changes in motivation (Filipp, 1996), emotional regulation (Carstenesen, 1998), social cognition and self-representations (Blanchard-Fields & Abeles, 1996; Frazier, Hooker, Johnson, & Kaus, 2000), self-expectations and self-efficacies (Salthouse & Maurer, 1996), and coping and adaptation patterns (Ruth & Coleman, 1996).
Filipp, S. H. (1996). Motivation and emotion. In J. E. Birren, & K.W. Schaie (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of aging (4th ed., pp. 218–235). San Diego: Academic Press.
Carstenesen, L. L. (1998). A life-span approach to social motivation. In J. Heckhausen, & C. S. Dwech (Eds.), Motivation and self-regulation across the life span (pp. 341–364). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Blanchard-Fields, F., & Abeles, R. P. (1996). Social cognition and aging. In J. E. Birren, & K. W. Schaie (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of aging (4th ed., pp. 150–161). San Diego: Academic Press
Frazier, L. D., Hooker, K., Johnson, P. M., & Kaus, C. R. (2000). Continuity and change in possible selves in later life: A 5-year longitudinal study. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 22, 237–243.
Kanfer and Ackerman (2004) position work motivation within a life-span context, suggesting that older individuals tend to be more contextually motivated— focused more on the aspects of the job related to helping and belonging—while younger individuals are more achievement oriented, focused more on task accomplishment.
Kanfer, R., & Ackerman, P. L. (2004). Aging, adult development and work motivation. Academy of Management Review, 29, 440–458.
Levinson et al. (1978), who noted that a primary developmental task of late adulthood involves finding a new balance between society and the self, whereas young adulthood is more focused on various strivings that help form one’s life structure, including those toward occupational achievement.
Levinson, D. J., Darrow, C. N., Klein, E. B., Levinson, M. H., & McKee, B. (1978). The season’s of a man’s life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
age-related differences in volunteer motivation have consistently been found (e.g., Miller, Powell,&Seltzer, 1990).
Miller, L. E., Powell, G. N., & Seltzer, J. (1990). Determinants of turnover among volunteers. Human Relations, 43, 901–917.
For instance, in a study of Red Cross volunteers, Frisch and Gerrard (1981) found that younger
volunteers tended to be motivated less by altruistic considerations than older volunteers, who tend to be more motivated by service or community obligation concerns (Omoto, Snyder, & Martino, 2000).
Frisch, M. B.,&Gerrard, M. (1981). Natural helping systems: A survey of Red Cross volunteers. American Journal of Community Psychology, 9, 567–579.
Omoto, A. M., & Snyder, M. (1995). Sustained helping without obligation: Motivation, longevity of service, and perceived attitude change among AIDS volunteers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 671–686
Similarly, Tschirhart (1998) found that older volunteers place more importance on helping others than
do younger volunteers, who tend to be more motivated toward developing and using skills, knowledge, and abilities
Tschirhart, M. (1998). Understanding the older stipended volunteer. Public Productivity and Management Review, 22, 35–48.