Over the past few years I've been involved with several volunteer organizations. In that time I've met countless people working selflessly to help others and further their cause. These people seem to have some intrinsic need to help others, with the sole reward of the good feeling we get when we see someone we helped smile. These can be some of the greatest people to meet and get to know.
However, there are also people (and I'm sure anyone who has volunteered has met at least one) who seem to be there for their own glorification(although there seem to be far fewer of this type). These are the people who then go out to parties and preach about the good they do, and expect everyone to give them an "attaboy". Now, I do not mean to bellittle the good these people actually do, because they really do help out. However, they seem to be in it for the wrong reasons. They are motivated not by the good they do or the people they help, but rather seek the reward of others' high regard for them after the fact.
In either case there are clearly motives and incentives for volunteering, however the basis of these are nearly opposite. Some people are motivated by the intrinsic desire to do some good, with the added incentive of seeing those who they have helped; others are motivated by the extrinsic desire to be seen doing good, and rewarded by others' praise afterward.
This study found that younger volunteers in a hospice-care situation were more motivated by career goals, while older retired workers were more motivated by the urge to give of themselves. While not necessarily volunteering for their own ego, the younger volunteers certainly do not have the most altruistic motives either.
Now, the motivation for people to volunteer their time may differ, yet can we really fault either case for working to benefit others? Certainly altruism seems far more commendable and noble, but good done even with "selfish" motives is still a good. This odd division makes me ponder the differences in personality that cause people to have such differing motivations for being a volunteer.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
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