The Importance Of Volunteerism

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Social psychologists have used a functional approach to explain why people volunteer. The premise is that people can be differentially motivated to engage in the same behavior; thus, volunteering can serve different functions for each individual. Clary, Snyder, and Ridge (1998) proposed a theory in which six motives (values, understanding, career, social, protective, and enhancement), measured using the Volunteer Functions Inventory, regulate volunteers’ motivations. (Souza, & Dhami, 2008) Values Motive. Volunteerism may arise from one’s religiosity, even among those who are not conventionally religious (Einolf, 2013). A nationally representative study found that religiosity is linked to volunteering (Einolf, 2013), as did a study of adolescents…show more content…
This was especially true of those who had been involved in volunteerism for the most time. Career Motive. The career motivation is concerned with career related benefits that might be obtained by participating in volunteer work. This function is satisfied when people volunteer to learn skills not only for the sake of learning but in order to explore job opportunities or to meet potential career contacts. The importance of this motivation is demonstrated in Jenner’s (1982) study of Junior League Volunteers, many of who volunteered to prepare for a new job or to achieve career–relevant skills. Cruce and Moore (2007) observed additional differences regarding students’ academic major and their likelihood of volunteering, with those majoring in education, business, biological science, and the social sciences more likely to volunteer than arts and humanities majors. While Clerkin, Paynter, and Taylor (2009) confirmed the connection between majors in the social sciences and a higher probability of volunteering, they found that humanities majors were also more likely to volunteer than peers of other majors. (Moore, E., Warta, S., & Erichsen, K.…show more content…
Volunteerism may offer opportunities to be with one’s friends or to engage in an activity viewed favorably by important others. This motivation is prominent in studies about blood donation, where initial donors declare that an important reason for their action is social pressure (Piliavin, forthcoming). However, before people decide to volunteer, they are exposed to social pressures and it is hard to refuse when asked (Greenslade & White, 2005). Apparently, although people do not volunteer out of obligation to a particular person (Omoto & Snyder, 1995), they do so because of the expectations of important others. Dekker and Halman (2003) argued that motives that initiate volunteer activities are seldom reasons for continuing voluntary work. Quitting their voluntary work may be associated with letting important others down and risking the loss of their love and respect. Ego Protective Motive. The ego-protective motivation is related to the functioning of the Ego. This motivation centers on protecting the Ego from negative features of the self and, through helping behaviors, may serve to reduce guilt over being more fortunate than others. Evidence of this function is found in Keniston’s (1971) sample of student activists who became involved out of a sense of “existential guilt” (Hoffman, 1976) or feelings of culpability for the plight of the less advantaged and in Frisch and Gerrard’s (1981) study of Red Cross volunteers, some of whom volunteered to escape negative

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