Participation in Voluntary Associations: Relations with Resources, Personality, and Political Values



Participation in voluntary associations is explained by different theories in sociology, psychology, and political science. Sociologists have emphasized the effects of resources such as human and social capital. Psychologists have demonstrated the role of empathy and extraversion as aspects of personality. Political scientists have considered political values and attitudes. This paper investigates the predictive value of personality characteristics, political values, and social conditions for civic engagement. Data from the Family Survey of the Dutch Population 2000 (n = 1,587) show that active citizens have more human and social capital available to them, they are more interested in politics, have more post materialistic value orientations, prefer leftist or Christian political parties, are less conscientious persons, and show more empathic concern with other people. Relations of personality characteristics with civic engagement were partly intermediated by church attendance and the level of education and varied in complex ways with hourly wages. My results show how social, political, and psychological characteristics are jointly related to civic engagement.