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Altruism and HealthPerspectives from Empirical Research$
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Stephen G. Post

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182910.001.0001

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Generativity: A Form of Unconditional Love

Generativity: A Form of Unconditional Love

(p.219) 11 Generativity: A Form of Unconditional Love
Altruism and Health

George E. Vaillant

Oxford University Press

This chapter uses the Study of Adult Development — Harvard Medical School's sixty-year prospective study of the lives of college and inner-city men — to answer two questions about generativity. First, should the Eriksonian concept of generativity be distinguished from the human capacity for warm relationships? Second, does generativity lead to improved physical health in later life? The chapter begins by defining generativity not only as assuming responsibility for the growth and well-being of others, but also as community building and mentoring to the next generation, and it points out that generative relationships often require much greater maturity than does simple loving attachment. The chapter uses the examples of two men from the study's inner-city cohort to show that generativity is not dependent upon social privilege and that generative individuals do not always live long, healthy lives.

Keywords:   Study of Adult Development, generativity, physical health, community building, social privilege

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