Correlates of individualism and collectivism: Predicting volunteer activity

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Differences in the factors that initiate volunteering in individualists versus collectivists were examined. In prior work it has been suggested that the two differ, not in how much service volunteers give, but in the reasons why. Individualist and collectivist tendencies were measured in a sample of long-term volunteers. Also assessed were respondents' attitudes about the responsibility of individuals and of society to help those in need, the individual's obligation to engage in social and political action, and the quality of social support available to participants. Collectivism was associated most strongly with personal responsibility and with a strong social support network, while individualism was related to a perceived responsibility to participate in social and political activism. Neither individualism nor collectivism was predictive of time spent volunteering. The findings suggest that rather than predicting who will, and will not, volunteer, the individualism/collectivism construct is useful in clarifying why people help. This knowledge, in turn, can be used to match the volunteer to the appropriate activity.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2011

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