Does Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Explain Volunteer Time Allocations? An Exploration of Motivational Time Allowances Using the American Time Use Survey


  • Michael Babula Khalifa University
  • Glenn Muschert Khalifa University



Maslow, USA, Human Needs, Volunteerism, American Time Use Survey


This study examines whether there is an optimal set point along Maslow’s (1943) hierarchy of needs associated with disaggregated forms of volunteerism. Taniguchi’s (2012) study examined major life domains (e.g., work, education, and religion) for associations with formal and informal volunteerism. An alternative approach is to include life domains with variables measuring motivational concerns to better identify time allocation patterns for disaggregated volunteerism. This study analyzed the results of 9,435 time diaries recorded on the 2019 American Time Use Survey (ATUS). The time allocated to formal and informal volunteerism associates with intermediate belongingness concerns. There is no association between time spent on self-esteem and self-actualization concerns and informal volunteering. Tertiary education as a baseline measure for self-actualization shares a weaker association than belonging with formal volunteering. The data suggest that research into maximizing formal volunteerism may be searching at the wrong point at self-actualization. Implications are discussed for motivating volunteerism.

Author Biographies

  • Michael Babula, Khalifa University

    Michael Babula is an Assistant Professor in Psychology in the Department of Social Sciences at Khalifa University. He holds a Ph.D. in Politics and Psychology (dual degree) from Goldsmiths, University of London.

  • Glenn Muschert, Khalifa University

    Glenn Muschert is Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Social Sciences at Khalifa University. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Colorado.






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