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Title:The Personal Goals of Elder Community Volunteers
Author(s):Rapkin, Bruce David
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Psychology, Social
Abstract:The relationship of older adults' life satisfaction to their social participation is a central issue in social gerontology. By paying attention to the personal goals that individuals consider important to their life satisfaction, a number of new questions regarding the influence of social participation become apparent. For instance, do people with different goals select different roles in later life? Do social settings influence inhabitants to base their well-being on certain goals and not others? Does life satisfaction depend on different aspects of social participation for individuals with different goals? In order to address these questions, a study was conducted of 194 members of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (mean age = 73.3 years) who worked in 123 different volunteer jobs in 67 different human services agencies. Self-report assessment included volunteers' description of their personal goals and life satisfaction, as well as demographic information, health, life events and social desirability. In addition to the extent of each individual's volunteer participation, assessment of the volunteer roles was based on the coding of opportunities for contact, leadership, and skill usage from written archival job descriptions, and on volunteer supervisors' descriptions of the job enrichment, structure and investment in each agency. A second-order factor analysis yielded ten scales to describe volunteers goals. Correlations of goal factors with demographics, life events and health indices tended to support interpretations of the goal factors. After controlling for these personal characteristics, individuals were clustered into five groups based on their patterns on these goal factors: High Demand, Age-Prescribed, Self-Focused, Self-Reliant, and Low Demand. Individuals with Self-Reliant goals had higher life satisfaction then the other five groups. Regressions within these goal-defined groups demonstrated that volunteer activity was strongly related to satisfaction for Self-Focused, High Demand, and Self-Reliant Volunteers, while the participation-satisfaction linkage was quite small in the other groups. Discussion focuses on the implications of the study of older adults' personal goals for theory-building and social intervention.
Issue Date:1987
Description:143 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8721738
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1987

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