Original Research

On the psychological consequences of unemployment in South-Africa

Hans de Witte, Sebastiaan Rothmann, Leone TB Jackson
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 15, No 3 | a153 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v15i3.153 | © 2012 Hans de Witte, Sebastiaan Rothmann, Leone TB Jackson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 February 2011 | Published: 22 August 2012

About the author(s)

Hans de Witte, K.U. Leuven, Netherlands
Sebastiaan Rothmann, North-West University, South Africa
Leone TB Jackson, North-West University, South Africa

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The objective of this study was to investigate the affective experiences, attitudes to work, and job application behaviour of unemployed people. A survey design was used and samples (N = 381) were drawn from unemployed people in the North West Province. The Experiences of Unemployment Questionnaire was administered. Regarding affective experiences, being unemployed was described as very unpleasant and it was associated with boredom, loneliness, uncertainty about the future, concerns about financial matters, emptiness and conflict. When it came to the participants’ attitudes to work, the results showed that almost 96 per cent of them regarded work as important, particularly because it provides meaning. Regarding job application behaviour, the results showed that most of the participants would like to find a job within the month, and they expected to do so. Almost 78 per cent of the participants were asking people for a job at least once a week or more often. Most of them asked friends and acquaintances for employment information, but unemployed people also reported that they looked out for advertisements. People with poor education had the most negative experiences of unemployment and saw work as more important than did those with better education.


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