The experiences and motivation of unemployed people in South Africa: a person- and variable-centred perspective
Van der Vaart, Leoni
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The psychological impact of unemployment is well documented. Psychological well-being and (re)employment remains high on the agenda for professionals assisting the unemployed. Key in transitioning to employment are the well-being (i.e. affective experiences), the value one attaches to employment (i.e. employment commitment), and the effort that one invests into searching for a job (i.e. job search intensity). Furthermore, the reason(s) for searching for a job (i.e. the “why" of job search) are associated with these affective, attitudinal and behavioural outcomes. Psychological interventions are therefore both necessary and important for ensuring well-being, but also to ensure that the unemployed remain responsive to opportunities. Even more so in countries with a high unemployment rate − yet in South Africa, these interventions are lacking. Before designing and implementing these interventions, it is essential to know whether the unemployed are one homogeneous group or rather a heterogeneous group consisting of several homogeneous subgroups. This knowledge will enable professionals to tailor interventions to the needs and expectations of the different groups, increasing the effectiveness of the interventions. Adopting a person-centred approach, the first two aims of this thesis were to explore whether different psychosocial and motivational profiles could be identified in specific communities in South Africa. It furthermore aimed to determine whether these profiles are associated with socio-demographic variables and whether different motivational profiles are associated with differences in affective, attitudinal and behavioural outcomes. The final aim of this thesis was to examine the pathways (i.e. psychological need satisfaction and frustration) through which job search motivation influences affective, attitudinal and behavioural outcomes over time. This variable-centred aim complemented the person-centred aims of the first two studies and facilitated further refinement of suggestions for interventions. The thesis not only makes practical contributions, but also extends existing unemployment and self-determination theory literature. To achieve these aims, participants were recruited from the North West and Gauteng Provinces. A quantitative survey design was used and data were collected with the Unemployment Experience, the Self-Regulation: Job Search questionnaires and the Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction and Need Frustration Scale. A total of 381 unemployed people participated in the first study. The final sample for the second study consisted of 867 unemployed people, 244 of whom participated in the third study. Results indicated that four psychosocial profiles and four motivational profiles could be identified in these respective samples. These profiles had small practically significant associations with the socio-demographic variables, and the motivational profiles differed in their associations with the affective, attitudinal and behavioural outcomes. The results also indicated that both amotivation and controlled motivation thwart the experience of basic psychological needs and that basic psychological need satisfaction was beneficial for experiential outcomes in unemployment six months later. The results support the notion that “the unemployed" are not one homogeneous group, that a lack of motivation and poor-quality motivation are detrimental for basic psychological needs, and that psychological need satisfaction plays an important role in the well-being of the unemployed.
- Humanities