Motivation of Voluntary Activity and Personal World Assumptions of the Youth

Author Name(s): Marina M. Solobutina*, Margarita Nesterova
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The paper presents results of research of volunteer activity motivation for young people in interrelation with world assumptions of a person. As a hypothesis of the study, it was suggested that the motivation for volunteer activity in the adolescence period is grounded on certain world assumptions and personal values. The study used the following methods: the World assumptions scale (R.Janoff-Bulman); and the Purpose-in-Life Test (J.Crumbaugh & L.Maholic). A semantic differential has been developed to study the motivation of volunteer activity. With the help of factor analysis, two leading motivations of volunteer activity were revealed: motives of personal growth and idealistic motives. The study was a comparative analysis of the studied indicators in a group of volunteers and in a group of young people not engaged in volunteer activity. It was determined that the motivation of volunteers in teens is based more on external factors (positive attitude of others, social significance, social contacts) and is not determined by deep world assumptions of the individual. The value of the “I” depends more on the idealistic beliefs and the personal orientation toward their support than on the meaningfulness and fruitfulness of one’s own life.


The relevance of the research lies in the fact that volunteer activity has recently acquired a special social significance and popularity which were in demand in carrying out a number of mass international events in many countries, and it was an indicator of public consciousness and social improvement of the state at the international level. The increasing need for a large number of volunteers reveals the need for their involvement and selection, what brings to the fore the problem of motivating volunteer activity [6].

Volunteering increasingly becomes the object of scientific research in the field of psychology and social sciences, and is considered as gratuitous activity aimed at offering benefits to people and society [30]. A greater number of young people are attracted to large-scale events, in which the psychological stability of volunteers, their motivations that lead to this activity is important [10].

Volunteer activity is analyzed from different positions, beginning with receiving by the participants of positive psychological experiences from carrying out activities, and up to the prerequisites of moral upbringing. It is often viewed as pro-social and altruistic behavior provided by motives of duty, care and sympathy [3]. The review of scientific publications devoted to the problem of motivating volunteer activity made it possible to determine the main aspects of its study [5]. Three directions can be distinguished in studying the motivation of volunteer activity. The first is devoted to the structural content characteristics of this activity, the second to the psychological characteristics of volunteers, and the third focuses on organizational psychology.

Structure of voluntary activity was investigated through the structure of activity as a whole and its value-semantic aspect [2; 12; 15; 18]. In the general psychological theory of activity by A.N. Leontiev, question about the “semantics” of activity is central, and the category of activity motivation is central and closely related to the concept of meaning [19]. D.A. Leontiev considers the personal senses of man as the basis of motivational processes [20; 21].

Researchers of volunteer activity motivation quite often consider it in the sense of altruistic and pro-social behavior [16]. Altruism emerges from personal motives, without pressure from outside, and is based on the moral principles of society.

The nature and content of motivation directly depends on the direction of volunteering activity. It is possible to identify various areas of volunteer activity: assistance to needy and vulnerable social groups [4], work in hospitals [26; 27; 29], palliative care [7], prevention of deviant behavior, work on the improvement of territories, preservation of cultural heritage, environmental activities, organization of mass leisure and sports events, etc. [24].

In studies of the second direction, it is proved that the individual psychological characteristics of the volunteer determine the nature of the implementation of volunteer activity [14; 16]. A. Maslow distinguishes between two types of motivation: the usual motivation of people who have not reached self-actualization, and the motivation of people living “beyond” self-actualization, on the level of Being [22]. For its characterization, he introduced the concepts of “B-values” and “metamotivation”. V. Frankl considered altruism as an opportunity for a person to achieve the meaningfulness of their life [11]. In many studies of volunteer work, the leading motive is the process of the activity itself aimed at helping others and based on responsibility and religious beliefs. It is important to consider the issues of meaningfulness of life and responsibility in the context of forecasting life events and the consequences of the activity [1], what will allow us to more deeply explore the internal motivation of actively helping others. A number of studies are known, in which the motivation of volunteer activity is considered in the context of the life course of an individual and the age-related stage of development [25; 28].

The third group of studies is devoted to the study of volunteer activity in organizational psychology and is related to the selection of applicants for volunteer work and the phenomenon of continuity and involvement in the organization assisting the mission [13; 23].

In this study, an attempt was made to supplement the main provisions of the motivation of voluntary activity by the example of volunteer movements, based on the analysis of knowledge in this area. The practical importance of the study is determined by the ability to use the data obtained for the development of the volunteer movement, as well as an understanding of the personal characteristics of people engaged in volunteer activity.


  1. It was revealed that in contrast to the subjects of the control group, the volunteers have prevailing belief in the justice of the world, the strength of kindness and the responsiveness of people. It is characteristic of them to believe in a special attitude on the part of society towards their activities, which consists in gratitude and a positive assessment of their personal qualities. Also their belief is dominated that the development of society, the situation in society, and in the world in general, depend on the personal contribution of specific people through their activities, the central motive of which is to improve the structure of society and human values.
  2. Certainly, the Purpose-in-Life orientations of volunteers are blurred, and unformed life program is behind the facade of volunteer activity. Inclusion in life and self-relationship are determined by the social importance of volunteering and depend on the approval of the surrounding people that they devote themselves to unpaid work.
  3. To study the motivational sphere of volunteers, a semantic differential was developed, as a result of which two main motives of volunteer activity were identified: motives of personal growth and idealistic motives.
  4. The results of the correlation analysis led to the conclusion that perceptions of personal growth and the formation of personality of volunteers are determined by external factors, such as the favor of the world, public recognition and the positive attitude of surrounding people. The value of the “I” depends more on the idealistic beliefs and the person’s orientation toward their maintenance than on the meaningfulness and fruitfulness of one’s own life.


The work is carried out according to the Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University.


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