Background: Wealth can be considered as resource to promote either
public welfare (i.e. through altruistic understanding) or personal well-being (i.e.
through egoistic understanding). How people understand wealth can influence the
distribution of valuable materialistic resources within a society. The current study
examined how generativity concern, the concern for next generation and social
welfare in the future, influenced people’s understanding of wealth and whether
age moderated the relationship.
Methods: A total of 133 participants ranging from 18 to 78 years old were interviewed
with four open-ended questions regarding their understanding of wealth.
Their generativity concern and demographical information were also recorded.
Results: Findings showed that generativity concern was related to a less egoistic and more altruistic
understanding of wealth. Moreover, the effect of generativity concern was especially salient for
younger adults, but not significant for older adults.
Conclusion: The results suggest that generativity concern is a construct that applies to both young
and older adults. It can even be more influential to young adults’ cognitive conceptualization in certain
aspects (e.g., understanding of wealth) than that of older adults. Future studies can further investigate
the general impact of generativity concern as well as the behavioral consequences of people’s
understanding of wealth. The results were also discussed in the context of lifelong learning.