Unselfish? Understanding the role of altruism, empathy, and beliefs in volunteering commitment

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This study explores the extent to which young volunteers perform voluntary service for selfless reasons by investigating the role of altruism, empathy, and beliefs in their commitment to voluntary projects that last for an extended period of time. A sample of young volunteers who have begun a voluntary long-term project completed a survey on the theoretical constructs under investigation. An objective measure of actual volunteering behavior was taken from the voluntary organization's records from 4 to 6 months after the questionnaires had been completed. Results show that volunteers fulfilled their agreement to take part in the projects independently of the motivation underlying their behavior, whether egoistic or altruistic. Volunteers do not differ in terms of altruism, empathy, and attitudinal and normative beliefs when compared by levels of committed volunteering behavior, but they do differ in terms of two control beliefs: lack of time and the hindrances to volunteering work.

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