Volunteerism and the life course: Investigating age-related agendas for action

Allen M. Omoto, Mark Snyder, Steven C. Martino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Combining a life course perspective with recent theorizing on motivationally related agendas for social behavior, this study investigated the purposes, expectations, and outcomes of adult hospice volunteers of varying ages. Specifically, support was found for the hypothesis that younger volunteers tend to be motivated by and to achieve outcomes related to interpersonal relationships, whereas older volunteers tend to be motivated to a greater extent by service or community obligation concerns. Furthermore, in hierarchical regression analyses predicting overall satisfaction, benefits relative to costs, commitment, and changes in self-esteem over 6 months of volunteer service, relationship-related variables demonstrated greater and significant predictive power for younger relative to older volunteers. Service-oriented variables, hypothesized to be more influential in predicting the outcomes of older volunteers, tended to be inconsistently related to these same outcomes. Discussion focuses on the theoretical significance of the findings for contemporary approaches to motivation and research on volunteerism and aging, as well as the practical implications of the results for volunteer recruitment, satisfaction, and retention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-197
Number of pages17
JournalBasic and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2000

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