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Volunteering and well-being : do self-esteem, optimism, and perceived control mediate the relationship?
journal contributionposted on 01.08.2008, 00:00 authored by David MellorDavid Mellor, Yoko Hayashi, L Firth, Mark StokesMark Stokes, S Chambers, Robert CumminsRobert Cummins
Volunteers play a vital role in modern societies by boosting the labor force within both the public and private sectors. While the factors that may lead people to volunteer have been investigated in a number of studies, the means by which volunteering contributes to the well-being of such volunteers is poorly understood. It has been suggested through studies that focus on the absence of depression in volunteers that self-esteem and sense of control may be major determinants of the increased well-being reported by volunteers. This is consistent with the homeostatic model of subjective well-being, which proposes that self-esteem, optimism, and perceived control act as buffers that mediate the relationship between environmental experience and subjective well-being (SWB). Using personal well-being as a more positive measure of well-being than absence of depression, this study further explored the possible mediating role of self-esteem, optimism, and perceived control in the relationship between volunteer status and well-being. Participants (N = 1,219) completed a 97-item survey as part of the Australian Unity Wellbeing project. Variables measured included personal well-being, self-esteem, optimism, and a number of personality and psychological adjustment factors. Analyses revealed that perceived control and optimism, but not self-esteem, mediated the relationship between volunteer status and personal well-being.