Perceived altruism: A neglected factor in initial intervention

Natti Ronel, Debbie Haski-Leventhal, Boaz M. Ben-David, Alan S. York

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Perceived altruism, an attitude that clients may attribute to those who work with them, was examined in a qualitative and quantitative study about the impact of volunteers in drop-in centers for youth at risk in Israel. Data were collected by interviews, observations, case studies, and questionnaires. The results show that the volunteers' unique contribution affected the service as a whole. The beneficiaries knew that volunteers were servicing them, perceived volunteers as true altruists, were satisfied to the degree of preferring their services over that of paid workers, and were positively affected by the encounter with volunteering. A significant impact was that volunteers set a living example of the possibility of human goodness via personal encounters and demonstrated the existence of a responsive society with mutual, unconditional caring. These results exhibit practical implications for innovative interventions with youth at risk and illustrate the significance of the psychology of goodness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-210
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Altruism
  • Drop-in center
  • Goodness
  • Volunteers
  • Youth at risk


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