Doing good for self and society: Volunteerism and the psychology of citizen participation

Mark Snyder, Allen M. Omoto

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, we will examine some of the ways that people act individually and collectively to address problems that confront and challenge society. To do so, we will be drawing on our program of research on the psychology of volunteerism. Volunteerism is a form of sustained helping in which people actively seek out opportunities to assist others in need, make considerable andcontinuing commitments to provide assistance, and sustain these commitments without any bonds of prior obligation to the recipients of their services. Guided by a functional approach to personality, motivation, and social behavior, we are engaged in a coordinated program of basic and applied investigations, conducted in the field and in the laboratory, to examine personal and social motivations that dispose people to volunteer and that sustain their involvement in such ongoing helping relationships. After reviewing the central tenets of the functional approach and some of the majorfindings of research on volunteerism guided by this approach, we will expand the focus to considerother varieties of individual and collective participation in society and how they can be informed by a functional perspective. Finally, we consider how the functional approach to the psychology of citizen participation can contribute to the building of bridges between basic research and practical problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCooperation in Modern Society
Subtitle of host publicationPromoting the Welfare of Communities, States and Organizations
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781135124243
ISBN (Print)041521758X, 9780415758222
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


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