Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Parker, Julie C.

Committee Member

Downey, Laura H.

Committee Member

Elmore-Staton, Lori

Committee Member

Burke, Benjamin

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Human Development and Family Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


School of Human Sciences


This study sought insight into the religious and cultural identity of emerging adults belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints(LDS) and the impact such identity had in relation to volunteering motivation. Participants included 24 emerging adult college students belonging to the Church. Thematic analysis was used to determine influencing factors that led to Church membership and how Church membership shaped self-perception. Participants shared volunteer experiences and motivation to volunteer in relation to Deci and Ryan’s (2000) self-determination theory (SDT) was examined. The motivation of relatedness was identified among 100% of participants as compared to competence (37.5%) and autonomy (16.7%). Findings suggest participants regard being children of God and serving children of God as an important factor of religious identity that influenced volunteer work. This study provides a guiding framework for volunteer organizations and how they can target recruiting efforts toward emerging adult Church members.