The Relation Between Gratitude and Volunteerism Motives

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Keilah Worth



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The Relation Between Gratitude and Volunteerism Motives

Volunteering is known to benefit the volunteer in a variety of ways--it is related to positive mental and physical health, happiness, and other aspects of well-being. The emotion of gratitude has also been linked with aspects of well-being. Though these relationships have been established, there is no existing research on the relation between volunteerism and gratitude. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between levels of gratitude and certain motives for volunteering. It was hypothesized that gratitude would be more closely related to the desire to volunteer to express one’s values than to the motivation of advancing one’s career. Twenty-one current volunteers (100% female) were surveyed regarding their current and past volunteer experience, their motivations for volunteering, their levels of gratitude, and other related constructs such as level of social support and overall well-being. Volunteers consisted of a pool of undergraduate students (n = 6), a university club of volunteers (n = 5), and members of an intensive year-long, full-time service program (n = 10). Results indicated that volunteering to gain a greater understanding of one’s self was strongly and positively correlated with levels of gratitude (r = 0.487, p <0.05), and volunteering to reflect one’s values was also correlated with levels of gratitude (r = 0.415, p = 0.061). Also notable was the finding that volunteering to advance one’s career was negatively correlated with gratitude, though not at the level of significance (r = -0.357, p = 0.122). Thus, our hypothesis was supported. Implications of these findings on likelihood of continuing volunteering are discussed.