Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


The 10 Core Values of Baby Boomers

The generation is hardly the evil empire many believe them to be.

Key points

  • Many people have a less than favorable view of baby boomers.
  • A greater familarity with baby boomers' core values would lead to a greater understanding of the generation.
  • There is considerable evidence that boomers are making a positive impact on society.

Boomerphobia (noun): an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to people in their late 50s to mid-70s.

Do you suffer from boomerphobia? Sadly, many people do, obscuring what the generation is actually about. Fortunately, there’s a cure: becoming more fluent in baby boomer culture. Contrary to popular belief, boomers are not secretly plotting how to ruin the future of younger generations. Rather, they’re actively engaged in all aspects of life, making their mostly positive presence felt and heard just as they’ve always done.

Source: BROvector/Shutterstock

In hopes of creating a greater understanding of the generation, here are what I believe to be the ten core values of baby boomers.

Youthfulness: Although one’s body may not have gotten the memo, youth is not something that necessarily goes away at age 20, 30, or by any other chronological measure; rather, youthfulness is an idea that anyone, regardless of his or her age, can subscribe to as part of an approach to or philosophy of life. This is especially true for baby boomers, who broke away from their parents’ generation by adopting a lifestyle and political orientation that immediately became associated with youthful values. With age just a number, boomers will always remain young at heart.

Knowledge: Older dogs are perfectly capable of learning new tricks, and baby boomers are satisfying their thirst to know more about some aspect of the world for professional or personal reasons. Boomers’ expansion of their gray matter is grounded in research dispelling the myth that cognition declines with age; study after study has shown that the human brain continues to generate new cells as it ages. As the most highly educated generation in history (until millennials came along), boomers are very interested in continuing to learn and try new things.

Reinvention: Baby boomers are entirely amenable to making major life changes when situations call for them, whether they involve work, relationships, where to live, romance, or spirituality. Whether carefully planned out or serendipitous, reinvention is about looking forward rather than backward, challenging the idea that older adults spend most of their time remembering better days when they were young. Just like younger folks, boomers are a work in progress, open to new experiences.

Creativity: There has always been an intimate relationship between baby boomers and creativity, one that will no doubt continue to blossom. Research shows that creativity helps mid-lifers and older people stay engaged, feel good about themselves, and serves as a prime way for them to remain optimistic and excited about life. Fortunately, boomers have been steeped in creativity throughout their lives, with aesthetics viewed as an essential way to express one’s individuality.

Bucket-listing: Many baby boomers are writing or pursuing bucket lists, i.e., inventories of desired experiences in life that they did not get around to completing because of time, money, or initiative. By one’s third act of life, however, such a list looms large in the minds of many, as the recognition that one will run out of time at some point in the future becomes more real. Boomers are now heavily investing in bucket lists, sometimes literally so, with many more inventories of must-do-before-I-die experiences to be taken in the years ahead.

Self-actualization: Research shows there is a natural evolution of human beings in their third act of life, a concept that many baby boomers have embraced. Climbing to the top of Maslow’s hierarchy is about the big stuff of life—gaining experience and wisdom, realizing one’s full potential, advancing one’s spirituality, and, perhaps most important, embracing aging. The ability to do this is in some respects a function of the peace of mind many boomers are beginning to experience as they head through their sixties and seventies.

Community: Like youthfulness and creativity, community has always been an essential strand in baby boomers’ DNA, an attribute that will serve them well in their later years. Boomers’ natural leaning to create communities is in part a function of their being what was the biggest community in history. While many such communities are somehow rooted in the past, they are not just looking back, but forward. Boomers are keen on forming new kinds of connections, friendships, and alliances, strengthening the role of community in their lives.

Politics: Baby boomers are now becoming a recognized constituency in their third act of life, building on the efforts of seniors of past generations who made their presence known in order to shape public policy. The political clout of boomers will further coalesce in the years ahead if only because the group represents a major voting bloc for any elected official or candidate, regardless of party. Boomers will exert great influence on the nation’s political and economic landscape, I believe, seeing the effort as their last opportunity to shape the country’s future.

Purpose: Giving back is already a principal activity among many baby boomers, specifically some form of passing on what one has learned in life so far. Paying it forward will become much more structured and organized in the years ahead, I foresee, with millions of boomers looking for a new mission in life that offers meaning and purpose. There actually may be a biological component to the urge to pay it forward; Maslow and Eric Erikson have each argued that humans are hard-wired to give back in their later years, part of the evolutionary process.

Legacy: Creating some form of legacy is top of mind for many baby boomers, as more and more ask themselves, “How can or will I be remembered?” It is difficult to overestimate boomers’ interest in making others know that they spent some time on Earth, in the process realizing a kind of immortality. Best of all, many studies show that being generous is an important source of happiness for those who choose to do it and that giving and volunteering are good for one’s health.


Samuel, Lawrence R. (2021). Age Friendly: Ending Ageism in America. New York: Routledge.

More from Lawrence R. Samuel Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today