Cultural Values and Volunteering: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)


This chapter discusses the connections between cultural values and volunteering. We define volunteering as giving one’s time freely and without financial reward to help other people or a cause (excluding one’s family and friends) in an organized manner. Volunteering is not always or purely altruistic, if altruistic behavior is defined according to the motives of the actor. Self-directed motives as well as altruistic motives may drive volunteering. Cultural, political, religious, and social contexts influence this activity by providing opportunities, expectations, and requirements for voluntary activity, as well as by directing the motives for volunteering, some of them altruistic, some not. This chapter focuses on altruistic and other motives that volunteers identify as meaningful reasons for volunteering. We discuss the influence of cultural contexts, especially cultural values, in volunteering and its motives. Cultural values seem to influence volunteering on their own and through social institutions. In at least some studies, egalitarian cultural values are strongly connected to altruistic volunteering motives.


Altruistic Behavior Altruistic Motivation Communist Country Welfare Model Formal Volunteer 
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 This chapter is to a large extent based on the following article and the work of the research team that coauthored the article: Grönlund, H., Holmes, K., Kang, C., Cnaan, R., Handy, F., Brudney, J., Haski-Leventhal, D., Hustinx, L., Kassam, M., Meijs, L. C. P. M., Pessi, A. B., Ranade, B., Smith, K. A., Yamauchi, N., and Zrinščak, S. (2011). Cultural values and volunteering: A cross-cultural comparison of students’ motivation to volunteer in 13 countries. Journal of Academic Ethics 9(2), 87–106.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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