For the benefit of others: Generativity and meaning in life in the elderly in four cultures

Jan Hofer, Holger Busch, May Lan Alma Mary Gerardina Au, Iva Poláčková Šolcová, Peter Tavel, Teresa Tsien Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Generativity has been argued to be an important indicator of successful aging. Indeed, generative concern has been found to be associated with meaning in life. In the present study, this relationship is argued to be partly explained through generative goals. Moreover, the path between generative goals and meaning in life is hypothesized to be conditional on belief in the species (assessed through Machiavellianism as a proxy variable). This moderated mediation model is tested with data from 4 cultural samples: 856 Cameroonian, Czech, German, and Hong Kong Chinese participants aged at least 60 years provided information on their generative concern, generative goals, meaning in life, and Machiavellianism. Controlling for effects of relationship, level of education, everyday competence, and cognitive functioning on meaning in life, analyses confirmed the moderated mediation model in all cultural samples. That is, generative concern is partly associated with meaning in life because it leads to generative goals. In turn, these provide individuals with meaning in life. This association, however, depends on belief in the species in that meaning in life does not increase when Machiavellian attitudes compete with generative goals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764-775
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Belief in the species
  • Generativity
  • Goals
  • Machiavellianism
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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