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January 2011



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 The Fireman

Article Date: 15 Feb 2010 – 3:00 PST

A study has revealed that volunteer work has numerous positive psychological benefits and discovered that it may even improve the experience of work the following day. These results are published online today, 15th February 2010 in the Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology.

Dr Eva J. Mojza and colleagues at the University of Konstanz, Germany, studied the psychological effects of volunteer work in a sample of 105 people who worked an average five days a week, and volunteered for 6.7 hours each week on average. The participants volunteered in a range of activities from the fire service, to church groups.

“We predicted that volunteer work during the evenings would have positive psychological effects, such as increasing psychological detachment from paid work, and fulfilling important psychological needs such the need to connect with others, autonomy and competence,” said Dr Mojza.

The participants in the study each completed two questionnaires each day for a period of two weeks; one questionnaire after work, and another before going to bed. As well as reporting the time they had spent volunteering, they were asked to report their feelings on need satisfaction, psychological detachment from work, learning experiences, and their well-being at work. Results of the bed-time questionnaires were compared to the following day’s after work questionnaire.

The amount of time people spent on volunteer activities was positively related to psychological detachment from work, their learning experiences and need satisfaction. Furthermore, the psychological detachment and need satisfaction was linked to better active listening at work the following day. The amount of time spent on volunteer work during the evening was also linked to well-being at work the following day.

“The positive relationships we discovered in this study supports the thinking that even demanding and stressful leisure time experiences such as volunteering for fire and rescue services can have positive psychological effects and even bring benefits in the workplace,” said Dr Mojza. “Volunteering can bring many positive experiences such as the satisfaction of needs that aren’t met through work – mastering new skills and relating to people socially, and it also helps people to thoroughly disengage from their work.”

British Psychological Society  


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