Helping by Volunteers: A Social Representations Approach

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Studies on helping have largely focused on individual cognitions, overlooking the significant contribution of one’s dynamic social context in shaping it. Social Representations Theory (SRT) was therefore used to study the shared and collective understanding of helping by volunteers. In-depth interviews were conducted with selected members of volunteer organizations. In keeping up with existing literature, the results show support to the altruism and egoism debate. Contrasting representations centered on the value differences of material (e.g., money) and nonmaterial (e.g., service) help ex/ended 10 beneficiaries. Suggestions [or a more informed volunteer management are discussed.