Involuntary Volunteerism: What Happens When You Require People to “Do Good?”


  • Susan M Henney University of Houston-Downtown
  • Justin D Hackett California University of Pennsylvania
  • Marie Rose Porreca University of Houston-Downtown


The voluntary nature of volunteerism has increasingly been calledinto question, particularly in situations where people are required tovolunteer as part of a class or activity. This study questioned 357 students at a diverse urban university abouttheir experiences with volunteerism, both as part of a class and not part of aclass.  Results suggest a disconnect between whatparticipants “think” when asked about their hypothetical views aboutinvoluntary volunteering, versus their actual attitudes after having engaged inmandated service for a class. Although negative perceptions existed when participantsthought about being forced to volunteer, after actually volunteering, the vastmajority were very supportive of the experience. Overall, taken together theresults suggest that the experience of forced volunteerism didnot have a negative impact on future volunteer intentions.

Author Biographies

Susan M Henney, University of Houston-Downtown

Associate Professor of PsychologyDepartment of Social Sciences

Justin D Hackett, California University of Pennsylvania

Assistant Professor of PsychologyDepartment of Psychology

Marie Rose Porreca, University of Houston-Downtown

B.S. in PsychologyDepartment of Social Sciences