Public service motivation (PSM) research has demonstrated the association of PSM with interest in government and nonprofit careers. Perry's PSM instrument also sheds light upon a less studied aspect of career interest among college students-the perception that the nonprofit sector, and not government, provides the better outlet for altruistic values. The author argues that given the lack of confidence in government and negative perceptions toward government work, only the attraction to policy making dimension predicts interest in government careers. In contrast, commitment to public interest, compassion, and self-sacrifice should explain student interest in nonprofits as well as teaching-both fields of work students see as more directly helping and serving people. Analyses of data from an Internet-based survey of 529 upper-division students at two upper-Midwest universities confirm this "divide" between the rational and normative/affective dimensions of PSM and suggest that confidence in institutions should be incorporated in PSM research.
- career interest
- public service motivation