Personality factors related to Big Brother/Big Sister volunteer effectiveness

Patti Anne Wilczek, Fordham University


The objectives of the current study were to enhance understanding of volunteerism through an investigation of demographic and personality characteristics associated with the volunteer work force. Further, this project examined the efficacy of the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF) in the selection of effective volunteers. The performance of Big Brother/Big Sister (BB/BS) volunteers was rated by agency caseworkers to determine the ability of the 16PF to discriminate between effective versus ineffective volunteers. Finally, 16PF profiles were examined for their ability to discriminate between volunteers rejected by the organization during prescreening, those who left the program without fulfilling their 12-month commitment to BB/BS, and those successfully paired with a child for this duration. Volunteer longevity was determined through retrospective review of volunteers' behavior. Respondents included 269 volunteers from BB/BS agencies in Orange, Dutchess, and Ulster Counties in New York State. Data from all volunteers entering the organization since 1988, when the 16PF became required for prescreening, were included. Agency caseworkers were asked to complete data sheets which included a demographic checklist, an adjective checklist for rating volunteer effectiveness, a global assessment of volunteer performance, and volunteers' 16PF sten scores. Results indicated that BB/BS volunteers were likely to be females, between 19 to 39 years of age, single, childless, and employed full-time. Although the vast majority of the sample was Caucasian, it is likely that this was reflective of the racial composition of the region. Further, attrition rates were found to be quite low, contrary to prior research. Although clustering of 16PF Factors Q2 (Group Dependency/Self-Sufficiency) and Q4 (Low Ergic Tension/High Ergic Tension) appeared to be predictive of BB/BS volunteers who remained successfully paired with a child for 12 months or longer, the ability of individual factors to predict volunteer longevity was inadequate. Finally, cluster analysis results failed to accurately classify volunteers who were either rejected by the agency or self-selected out of BB/BS. Further research aimed at replicating the present findings is recommended. It is further recommended that future research be directed at devising a more behavioral effectiveness rating instrument, due to within-rater effects observed in the present study.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Wilczek, Patti Anne, "Personality factors related to Big Brother/Big Sister volunteer effectiveness" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9412156.