Motivations and personality traits of young and mature adult volunteers - Results from a pilot study

Dóra Gazsó - László Dorner - Georgina Csordás


The aim of this study is to explain the connection between volunteer motivations and personality traits in young and middle adult volunteers. In previously conducted research, personality traits of volunteers have mostly been assessed using questionnaires based on trait theory approaches (e.g. John 1990; Habashi et al. 2016; Ackermann 2019). The novelty of our research is that we measure biologically determined temperaments and character traits learned via experience and their connections with volunteer motivations separately. The data collection was completed online via snowball method, hence the sample is not representative. To assess personality traits, we used the 55-item version of Cloninger's Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), and to measure volunteer motivation, we used the Hungarian-translated version of the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI). Our results suggest that character traits (self-directedness, cooperativeness) may play a more important role in volunteering than temperament traits, of which low harm avoidance was prominent in mature adults. Supporting McLennan and Birch's (2008) findings, volunteer motivations showed different patterns in young and mature adulthood: young adult volunteers are more likely to have self-oriented sources for motivation, such as career, understanding, social, enhancement, and protection motivation. Personality traits were associated with different volunteer motivations in young and mature adulthood: e.g., reward dependence may induce the wish for interpersonal relationships and being in community for young adult volunteers; whereas for mature adult volunteers, it may induce helping others and maintaining and passing on values. Our research highlights the feasibility of examining personality traits and volunteer motivations combined and their connections to infer what activities would be satisfying for volunteers. Being a small sample pilot study, it may serve as a good starting point for further research on volunteerism in the future.

Keywords: young volunteers, mature adult volunteers, volunteer motivations, personality traits,