Sustaining Social Trust and Volunteer Role Identity Reciprocally over Time in Pre-adult, Adult, and Older Volunteers

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-83
Journal / PublicationJournal of Social Service Research
Issue number1
Online published23 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Social services often organize volunteer work to achieve social well-being, such as building volunteer trust in various people. Meanwhile, a vital goal for the organizing is the development of volunteer identity, such that volunteers identify themselves with volunteering. Volunteer identity is supposed to maintain reciprocal effects with social trust. Moreover, the individual's volunteer identity and social trust are supposed to be responsive to the identity and trust of the volunteer team. To examine these uncharted suppositions, the present study employed a three-wave panel design to survey 872 volunteers in Hong Kong, China. Results show that earlier volunteer identity revealed a weak positive effect on social trust among adult (age 18–59 years) volunteers. Social trust also indicated a positive effect on subsequent volunteer identity, especially in the older (age 60 years or more) volunteer. In contrast, earlier volunteer identity in the volunteer team was predictive of the social trust of the preadult (aged 11–17 years) volunteer. These results imply that social services can capitalize on the reciprocal effects between volunteer identity and social trust to promote identity and trust. Future directions based on the results of this study support the promotion related to different age groups to improve the volunteering experience.

Research Area(s)

  • exchange theory, role theory, social trust, volunteer identity, Volunteering

Citation Format(s)