Applying Theories of Institutional Helping to Informal Volunteering: Motives, Role Identity, and Prosocial Personality

Document Type


Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Dispositional variables from a volunteer model were shown to apply to informal volunteering. The model integrates two theories of the volunteer process: functional analysis and role identity theory. Undergraduates, (N= 139), completed an informal volunteer inventory, and measures of motives, role identity, and prosocial personality. Two dimensions of informal volunteering: people-oriented and task-oriented were revealed. Both correlated with motives for helping and role identity. The personality dimension of Helpfulness was associated with both Informal Volunteering – People (IVP) and Informal Volunteering – Task (IVT), while Other-oriented Empathy correlated only with IVP. This study is the first to demonstrate the applicability of a model of formal volunteering to ongoing informal helping. Variables heretofore conceptualized as describing individuals within organizations, are seen as equally important in initiating and sustaining informal helping.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Social Behavior and Personality, v. 35, issue 1, p. 101-114.