Date of Award

1-1-1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Masters of Psychology

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Associate Professor Edward Helmes

Abstract

Volunteering has been found to play an important role in the lives of older adults. The general beneficial effects of volunteering have been widely established. However an investigation on the specific effect volunteering can have on older adults' perceptions of their abilities has yet to be established. It is important to investigate whether volunteering in later life is positively associated with one's perception of oneself or one's self-efficacy. Individuals with high levels of self-efficacy tend to believe they are more capable of handling stressful situations and are less likely to feel helpless and dependent and thus feel more confident of their ability to function independently. The present study investigates self-efficacy and depression among 87 older volunteers and 84 older non-volunteers. The present study contrasts volunteers and non-volunteers on self-efficacy, depression, age and years of education as the hypothesised dimensions along which volunteers differ from non-volunteers. It is further hypothesised that self-efficacy and depression will be the two factors that best discriminate between volunteers and non-volunteers. The results of the present study support the hypothesis. It found that self-efficacy, depression and age discriminated between volunteers and non-volunteers and that self-efficacy and depression were the two factors that accounted for most of the difference. The results of the present study highlights the importance volunteering may have in fostering self-efficacy in older people. The present study, though exploratory in nature has a number of important implications for promoting independent functioning in later life and improving the quality of life of older people.

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