The Relationship between Conscientiousness and Volunteering

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2014

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



The current study examined the relationship between conscientiousness and volunteering using two large samples, the St. Louis Personality and Aging Network (SPAN) and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). We first examined whether work status played a role in whether conscientious individuals chose to volunteer. It was hypothesized that conscientious adults who were retired would be more likely to volunteer because, after retirement, they gain a substantial amount of free time, while losing an outlet for their industrious and achievement-striving tendencies. Analyses for both samples revealed that conscientiousness positively predicted volunteering. However, conscientiousness’ relationship with volunteering was best explained when work status was taken into account: conscientiousness retired individuals were more likely to volunteer than conscientious, working individuals. These findings indicate that volunteering during retirement fills an important niche for high-striving, conscientious individuals. In addition, we examined whether some facets predicted differentially from one another and overall conscientiousness, providing support for the idea that personality should be examined at a facet level. Responsibility positively predicted volunteering, above and beyond conscientiousness, while traits relating to orderliness and self-control were negatively related to volunteering.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Joshua J. Jackson

Committee Members

Randall Larsen, Michael Strube, Thomas F. Oltmanns


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