Categorized | Anti-Aging

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Do We Become More Or Less Tolerant As We Age?

One of the difficulties we have with the term ‘intolerance’ is that it is often confused with words such as ‘anger’, ‘begrudging’, ‘resentful’, ‘grumpy’, and ‘prejudice’.

It seems that tolerance (or intolerance) varies from person to person and is a matter of general personality and temperament: there are individual differences across all age levels. Some consider that as we get older we become less tolerant – of small talk, those who are different from us, and so on. Yet others tolerate these things more easily and, as a general truth, mellow with age – accepting that it takes all sorts in this world.

Research regarding whether or not we become more or less tolerant as we age is scarce. Researchers at Ohio State University found older adults tend to be more prejudiced than young people. The reason, researchers explained, was because oldies just can’t help it. There is also some research to suggest that as men age they become more rigid and intolerant. And, as women age, they become more tolerant and flexible.

According to Los Angeles-based psychiatrist, Mark Goulston, intolerant people tend to possess some common characteristics. They can be fanatical, psychologically rigid, know-it-alls. They’re usually terrible listeners, controlling, frequently jealous, can’t leave anything to chance, and (surprise, surprise) have tension in their relationships.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that we become more direct as we age. If we’re flying, and the person seated in front of us puts their seat back, or at the theater, if someone is prodding the back of our seat with their feet, or if someone thinks everyone is interested in hearing their phone conversation, oldies tend to speak up.

It seems that, if you want to avoid being intolerant of others, you have two main choices – distance yourself, or put up with them.

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