Doctoral Degrees (Industrial Psychology)

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    Psychological appraisal in personal engagement : the influence of mindsets
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-12) van der Bank, Francois; Theron, Callie; de Bruin, Deon; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. Dept. of Industrial Psychology.
    ENGLISH SUMMARY: The study investigates the role of psychological appraisal in the development of personal engagement, focusing on goal orientations and core self-evaluation as underlying cognitions influencing how people subjectively interpret objective features in their environment. The more cognitive approach followed in the study differs from the majority of past research studies in that it focuses on the psychological process of engagement, as opposed to searching for “drivers” of engagement. In order to test the premise that employees can appraise the same situation differently, the sample consisted of participants (N = 368) from a similar environment (i.e. full-time academics at three South African universities) and with the focus on the same target role, namely that of academic researcher. The study also controlled for the objective environment by developing an objective index measuring verifiable features in the environment and subsequently used residualised centring to remove the variance in the measurement model explained by the objective index. The study used a crosssectional correlational design, with structural equation modelling as the analytical technique for evaluating the proposed appraisal-focused personal engagement structural model. The structural model produced acceptable fit statistics (RMSEA = .055; p > .05) and 19 (82.6%) of the 23 path-specific hypotheses were supported by the data. Overall, the model explained 87% of variance in the personal engagement construct. The results confirm the intermediate and proximal role of the critical psychological states (representing employees’ appraisal of the environment) leading to personal engagement; although the current study suggests that meaningfulness and psychological availability can compensate for psychological safety. The study also demonstrates that learning goal orientation, along with the newly developed purpose goal orientation (representing mid-level cognitive schemas) is likely to result in positive appraisals of the situation, while performance goal orientation mostly leads to negative appraisals. The data further supported the influence of core self-evaluation (conceptualised as more fundamental self-beliefs) on the three goal orientations, with it having a positive effect on learning and purpose goal orientation, but an inverse effect on performance goal orientation. Finally, the results of the indirect effects corroborate the view of core self-evaluation as a distal variable, positively influencing personal engagement via a stream of intermediate variables, including the goal orientations. The cross-sectional correlational design represents a limitation in the study as it does not allow for causal interpretations on the same level as experimental designs. In addition, a longitudinal design could have provided more insight into the psychological process, given the long stream of variables, ranging from fundamental core self-beliefs to mid-level cognitions (goal orientations) to psychological appraisal, and eventually personal engagement behaviour. The study shows that to fully understand personal engagement, consideration needs to be given to both the objective environment as well as people’s subjective, internal interpretation and experiences of the environment and themselves. In terms of subjective appraisals, it is recommended that organisations focus on goal orientations as they may offer therapeutic potential to facilitate higher levels of personal engagement.
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    Development and evaluation of a longitudinal dynamic needs-action model of employee well-being : a psychological perspective
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-04) Marsburg, Angela; Görgens, Gina; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. Dept. of Industrial Psychology.
    ENGLISH SUMMARY: The importance of well-being cannot be denied. Psychological well-being is a prerequisite to physical health, and is fundamental to an employee’s effective cognitive functioning, maintaining successful interpersonal relations, earning a living, and living a good life. Building on a recently proposed model of well-being, namely the eudaimonic activities model, that emphasises ‘doing well’ within the process of ‘feeling well’, this research study set out to explore the latent variables that interact to characterise employee well-being, from a dynamic intra-individual psychological perspective. Drawing on the theoretical frameworks of self-determination theory and psychological ownership theory, inspired by the eudaimonic activities model, a generic theoretical dynamic needs-action model of employee well-being, from a psychological perspective, was developed. Through theorising, five specific needs-based models, which replicate the dynamic well-being process suggested in the generic dynamic needs-action model, per specific need, were presented and tested longitudinally. The generic dynamic needs-action model presented certain predictions, namely the influence of basic psychological needs (self-identity, autonomy, competence, relatedness and beneficence) on motivation to pursue the route of self-investment, the effect of motivation on route pursuit (investing the self in the job, in task crafting behaviours, in optimally challenging tasks, in positive relations and in altruistic acts), and the subsequent influence of route pursuit on need satisfaction. Moreover, it was predicted that need satisfaction would influence the respective positive psychological state (psychological ownership, self-esteem, self-efficacy, psychological safety and meaning), which would in turn predict subjective well-being experienced by employees, over time. A three-wave quantitative, non-experimental research design, executed with a longitudinal online survey, incorporating a planned missing data design, was followed, using a convenience sample (Time 1: n = 290; Time 2: n = 229; Time 3: n = 195), to test the five specific needs-based cross-lagged panel models, with Mplus version 8.4. Three of the five specific needs-based models, namely the need for self-identity (Model 1), the need for relatedness (Model 4), and the need for beneficence (Model 5) obtained acceptable fit. However, statistical support was only found for certain paths within each of these models. The models pertaining to the need for autonomy (Model 2) and the need for competence (Model 3), failed to obtain acceptable fit and further investigation was halted for these two models. The results therefore revealed somewhat limited, partial, evidence to support the proposed generic theoretical dynamic needs-action model of employee well-being, from a psychological perspective. Conclusions pertaining to the overall predictions, presented in the generic theoretical model, were based on trends and insights garnered from the three models that obtained statistical support. Therefore, this research study found empirical support for the inclusion of both need salience and need satisfaction, within a model of employee well-being, from a psychological perspective. Moreover, the results suggest that only individuals who were motivated to feel well, experienced the benefits of their efforts (route pursuits) in terms of improved subjective well-being. The active role of the individual within the well-being process was additionally supported by the data, since route pursuit predicted need satisfaction, and need satisfaction influenced the respective positive psychological outcomes ten weeks later. No empirical support was found for the well-being gains argument inspired by Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory, and Hobfoll's conservation of resources theory. Methodological and theoretical effects that may have potentially influenced the results are suggested. Lastly, practical implications, limitations and future research areas are presented.
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    The development and psychometric evaluation of a graduate leader competency questionnaire
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2020-12) Pienaar, Jacques; Theron, Callie C.; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. Dept. of Industrial Psychology.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT : The impending retirement of a large number of industry’s senior and most influential leaders (mostly from Generation X) around the world is increasingly putting pressure on HR departments to be able to identify management potential from and accelerate the leadership development of the latest generation to enter the workforce (i.e. Generation Y) in order to deliver a supply of high calibre executives and leaders for the future. In order to diagnose the causes of low levels of employability amongst Generation Y graduates emanating from South African universities, to inform the recruitment and selection of these graduates as well as their development upon entry into the organisation, and to inform interventions aimed at the development of psychological states that affect (intrinsic) work motivation and lower turnover intention, that in turn, are all necessary prerequisites for the development of effective leadership acceleration programmes, the complex nomological network of latent variables characterising the graduate employee (i.e. transient psychological states, malleable attainments and rather inflexible, non-malleable dispositions) and characterising the work environment (i.e. job characteristics, job demands, span of control, etc.) that affect graduate leader performance and turnover, first need to be validly mapped and understood. This research challenge naturally broaches the questions as to what graduate leader performance means, and secondly, how graduate leader performance can be measured. The research design utilised a mixed method approach (coupling quantitative and qualitative methodologies) to develop answers to these afore-mentioned questions. The long-term goal was ultimately to conceptualise the graduate leader performance construct (i.e. what graduate leader performance means) as a five-domain job performance hypothesis (i.e. a competency model approach to job performance) in which the relevant latent variables in the competency potential, competency, competency outcomes, competency requirements and job and organisational characteristics domains of this performance space are structurally mapped onto each other in a richly interconnected network of cause-and-effect relationships. Thus, the aforementioned competency model in terms of the abstract (and as-of-yet unknown) latent variables that populate its different domains needed to be fully explicated and empirically tested. However, as the full explication of such a multidomain hypothesis was considered a massive and overly ambitious undertaking and implied a multiphase project spanning a considerable amount of time, the focus of the present study was limited to the explication of the behavioural (or competency) domain of graduate leader performance only (or first). The explication of the other domains of the competency model (i.e. competency potential, competency outcomes, competency requirements and the job and organisational characteristics domains) will have to be targeted by future studies as a matter of priority. The explication of the behavioural requirements of (graduate) leader performance ensued by way of a wide-ranging literature study on leadership and managerial requirements for the 21st century and in excess of 100 (first order) competencies were initially identified as being relevant to this cause. Thematic analysis was employed to group the (first-order) competencies into nine internally consistent themes and the relevance of these across South African organisations were confirmed through the employment of the Delphi method administered on sample of subject matter experts in the field. This led to hypothesising about the nature of the relationships between the nine (second-order) competencies and the derivation of a structural model that depicted the to-be-tested internal structure of the graduate leader performance construct (behaviourally interpreted). The question as to how graduate leader performance could be measured, on the other hand, was dealt with by developing an instrument (i.e. the PGLCQ) that could be used to measure these nine second-order competencies. The qualitative part of the study (more specifically the Critical Incident Technique field work) served as the basis for item development and the creation of behavioural anchors for these items. The PGLCQ eventually comprised of 90 questions (10 questions per competency) and utilised 5-point rating scales. The psychometric properties of the PGLCQ were examined on a sample of n=133 graduate leaders. While the initial plan was to collect multi-rater data (from the graduate leader and his or her manager) with which to analyse the psychometric properties of the PGLCQ, the data collection exercise was marred with a poor completion rate either from the side of the graduate or the manager (an incomplete response from either rendered the specific case unusable), and consequently this aim unfortunately did not realise. Nonetheless, the psychometric evaluation of the nine subscales of the PGLCQ by way of item and dimensionality analysis (self-rater responses) delivered results that were compatible with the position that all of them provided an adequate measure of the specific latent competency variables they were designed to assess (i.e. acceptable evidence was obtained to conclude their reliability and validity). The reliability coefficients of the different subscales of the PGLCQ were, moreover, found to be of an exceptional standard and the subsequent fitting of the overall PGLCQ measurement model led to the conclusion of close fit in the parameter. In addition, as the LISLEL output suggested that the item parcels of the PGLCQ competency questionnaire measurement model loaded satisfactorily and significantly on the latent variables they were earmarked to reflect, and the PGLCQ measurement model passed all tests of discriminant validity, the operationalisation of the latent variables that the graduate leader structural model comprises of were considered successful. On the other hand, when fitting the graduate leader performance construct to the comprehensive LISREL model, despite the fact that the exact and close fit hypotheses had to be rejected, acceptable model fit was nonetheless concluded as the Two-Index Presentation strategy combination rules provided sufficient evidence to argue that the fitted model was able to sufficiently accurately approximate the observed variance-covariance matrix. However, out of the eighteen path-specific hypotheses originally proposed, six could unfortunately not be corroborated. Five path coefficients associated with five path-specific hypotheses were found to be statistically insignificant in the beta matrix, while only one path coefficient associated with one path-specific hypothesis was found to be statistically insignificant in the gamma matrix. Nonetheless, support garnered for twelve of the original path-specific hypotheses resulted in the validation of a graduate leader performance (behaviourally interpreted) explanatory model, even if the internal structural relations between the latent variables included in the final model differed somewhat from the manner in which this psychological mechanism was initially thought to operate. Therefore, this study advances the quest for the availability and effective functioning of leaders in South African organisations via the practical suggestions offered for improving and accelerating leadership development as well as suggestions for future research to build on this, thus making a significant contribution to the development of a leading best practice approach to the recruitment, selection and development of high-performance graduate leaders for South Africa’s future.
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    The development and psychometric evaluation of a medical practitioner compassion competency questionnaire
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2020-03) Visser, Michelle; Jäckel, Michelle; Theron, Callie C.; Mash, Bob; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. Dept. of Industrial Psychology.
    ENGLISH SUMMARY : Medical practitioner compassion has been identified as a key construct in healthcare, not only by prominent healthcare stakeholders such as the World Health Organisation, the Health Professions Council of South Africa and the South African National Department of Health, but also by patients and practitioners themselves. Patients want to be treated in a compassionate way during the medical encounter. The concern, however, exists that too many medical practitioners still utilise a biomedical approach, as opposed to a bio-psychosocial approach, when interacting with patients. If the level of compassion competence displayed by medical practitioners is to be purposefully managed it needs to be monitored through measurement. Defining and measuring a behavioural construct like medical practitioner compassion, however, remains a challenge and therefore provides a strong rationale for research in this area. Despite some research done on compassion where the construct is typically described as either a state or trait, inconclusive and varied research results are offered for the construct “compassion”, specifically in the healthcare sector. In addition, a psychometrically sound instrument measuring this construct, conceptualised as a multidimensional behavioural competency, seems to be absent, not only in the South African context, but also internationally. This emphasised the need to not only conceptualise medical practitioner compassion from a theoretical perspective, but to also operationalise the compassion construct via a Medical Practitioner Compassion Competency Questionnaire (MPCCQ) and to follow a rigorous empirical investigation into the construct validity of the construct-referenced inferences derived from the dimensions’ scores obtained on the MPCCQ. By addressing this challenge in an attempt to contribute to the improvement of medical practitioner compassion in the South African public healthcare sector, the current study firstly conceptualised and constitutively defined compassion as a behavioural construct. The connotative meaning that the constitutive definition of this construct needed to capture lies in the internal structure of the construct and the manner in which the construct is embedded in a larger nomological network of other related constructs. By dissecting the competency of compassion, insight was gained into the internal structure of the construct, resulting in the identification of six structurally inter-related latent compassion dimensions. The connotative meaning of the competency was finally brought to fruition in the outcome structural model that was proposed. The research methodology utilised in operationalising the six latent compassion dimensions in terms of their behavioural denotations, consisted of qualitative critical incident technique interviews, where medical practitioners were utilised as co-researchers in understanding their mental models of compassion from a competency perspective. The research findings from the qualitative interviews enabled the researchers to write behavioural anchors that were subsequently re-written as test items for the MPCCQ. Qualitative validation sessions were held with some of the medical practitioners to obtain subject matter feedback on the wording of the items so as to iterate the wording of the items to the final version of the standardised 37-item competency questionnaire, which was then completed by medical practitioners (n = 234) at the 21st National Family Practitioners Congress held in Cape Town during 2019, at Karl Bremer hospital, Khayelitsha hospital, Tygerberg hospital and at Worcester hospital, all situated in the Western Cape province, South Africa. Subsequently the quantitative data gathered from the questionnaire were analysed with the statistical packages, SPSS 25 and LISREL 8.8. The quantitative findings based on the evaluation of the MPCCQ provided excellent model fit, not only for the measurement model but also for the structural model reflecting the internal structure that was attributed to the multidimensional compassion construct. Even though above expectation good measurement and structural model fit was obtained, it is still recommended that additional test items should be developed for the subscales where lower Cronbach alpha values were obtained and where factor fission was obtained. Most importantly, the MPCCQ showed construct validity, thus clearing the first hurdle necessary to allow the eventual utilisation of this instrument in practice. The study concludes with practical managerial implications and suggestions for further research necessary to allow the confident utilisation of the MPCCQ in practice.
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    The role of gamification in the facilitation of student engagement : an exploratory industrial psychology application
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2019-04) Adams, Samantha; Du Preez, Ronel; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. Dept. of Industrial Psychology.
    ENGLISH SUMMARY : Student engagement has been identified as a significant predictor of student success. With the current drive to improve student success and graduation rates in South African higher education institutions, the potential that enhanced student engagement and learning experiences hold for increasing student success provides a strong rationale for research in this area. One potential avenue for enhancing student engagement is gamification. The popularity of gamification as a learning tool to foster engagement has grown exponentially over the past decade. Gamification is understood as the application of game thinking and game design to non-game environments, products and services, e.g. education. The goal of gamification is to promote motivation and engagement, as well as provide an engaging experience in numerous contexts. Educational gamification holds much potential for supporting and enhancing authentic learning experiences. Despite the initial positive wave of research, more recent studies are reporting inconclusive or mixed results of the efficacy of gamification use in education. This emphasises the need for theoretical and rigorous empirical investigations of gamified interventions in education. In addition, the application of educational gamification to the development of student engagement and student success has received limited attention in the South African context. This study sought to propose a framework of educational gamification design principles for the facilitation of student engagement. The investigation was guided by the principles of the Design Based Research (DBR) approach. DBR is characterised by iterative cycles of analyses, design, evaluation and revision activities that serve to develop and improve teaching and learning technologies. Through this approach a gamified online learning environment was created, evaluated and revised, within two Industrial psychology modules, over three iterative cycles. The pragmatic paradigm supported the used of mixed methods in the examination of the influence that gamification had on student engagement. Qualitative focus group interviews were employed to elicit participant perspectives and experiences. Student engagement was also evaluated quantitatively through a questionnaire compiled to measure the dimensions of the construct (i.e. behavioural, emotional and cognitive engagement) and was used in a within-subjects experimental design. Supporting data was also collected through documentation, activity logs and website analytics. The findings supported the development of a framework of design principles and design guidelines derived from the design and evaluation process to develop the interventions. These principles and guidelines present key features and insights required for gamifying learning environments that facilitate student engagement. The findings also emphasised the dynamic interplay between the dimensions of student engagement as well as how they are influenced by game elements. Cross case comparisons highlighted the influence that factors such as enjoyment, context and group characteristics have on the perceived success and effective use of educational gamification. Even though limited support was found to corroborate clear casual effects of the gamified intervention on student engagement, the study demonstrated that educational gamification principles can facilitate student engagement - but must be carefully tailored, and seamlessly integrated with the learning environment. Most importantly, educational gamification can support and enhance behaviours that are conducive to learning, but require relevant and meaningful learning activities in combination with carefully considered reward and feedback mechanisms. The study provides practical and theoretical insights that are transferrable from the context in which it was conducted. This research also highlighted challenges and limitations associated with educational gamification usage and student engagement research and thus offered suggestions for avenues for further investigation.