Title page for ETD etd-06142011-105625

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Meiring, Corne Jeanne
Email jeannemeiring@gmail.com
URN etd-06142011-105625
Document Title Just world beliefs, sense of coherence and proactive coping in parents with a child with autism
Degree MEd
Department Educational Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Dr S Human-Vogel Supervisor
  • cross sectional correlational study
  • fantasy realisation model
  • parents
  • chronic stress
  • proactive coping
  • autism
  • sense of coherence
  • belief in just world
  • goal commitment
  • future-oriented thinking
Date 2011-04-12
Availability unrestricted
Parents of children diagnosed with autism, a disease characterised with difficulty in speech, behaviour and language, experience chronic stress more than in any other developmental disorder. Outcomes of chronic stress in this regard are often associated with uncertain expectations of the future where current stressors are exuberated and future expectations are negated. Thinking about the future has been noted to contribute positive psychological functioning. Authors have, however, noted that some parents of autistic children are able to conceptualise positive future expectations in the mists of stressful current realities whilst using proactive coping strategies. Proactive coping literature has predominantly focused on situational characteristics and, to a lesser extent, on dispositional characteristics The relationship between dispositional characteristics - belief in just world, sense of coherence in relation to proactive coping is investigated in parents raising a child diagnosed with autism.

Constructs were operationalised through the Orientation to Life Questionnaire (Antonovsky, 1987), Global Belief in Just World Scale (Lipkus, 1991), Reactions to Daily Life Questionnaire (Greenglass, 2002) and a demographic questionnaire. A cross-sectional correlational design consisting of a sample of 30 (n = 30) parents with children with autism was conducted. SPSS ver12 was used for analysis, which included both descriptive and inferential analysis. Inferential statistics included the Independent T-Test and analysis of variance (ANOVA) to analyse independence of the sample, and Spearman Rho correlations were used to test possible correlations between constructs. The small sample size precluded more advanced statistical manipulation of data. Open ended questions were analysed through a process of content analysis.

The interpretation of results showed no significant differences between independent variables (e.g. age, gender, adjustment level of child) and constructs measured. Results of the correlational analysis indicated positive correlations between (i) belief in just world andproactive coping, (ii) sense of coherence and proactive coping as well as (iii) the sense of coherence (meaningfulness) subscale and proactive coping. No relationship was found between belief in just world and proactive coping. These results indicate that these dispositional characteristics can be associated with proactive coping and that belief in just world and sense of coherence who share similar theoretical underpinnings may have different predictor values. Qualitative results suggest that parents who engage in future oriented thinking and proactive coping strategies such as planning activities and social engagements often display higher levels of just world beliefs.

The present study contributes to theoretical knowledge by providing insight into the relationships between constructs with regards to proactive coping in parents who experince chronic stress, by illustrating convergence and distinctiveness between constructs. Furthermore, knowledge was gained on the influence of dispositional characteristics on proactive coping strategies, seeing as how previous research primarily focused on situational characteristics. Practical applications of the results offer insight into coping processes of parents of children diagnosed with autism with specific reference to proactive coping which ultimately implicates the applicability value of future oriented therapeutic interventions for these families. Insight into the goals of parents and the daily challenges they face will furthermore assist the helping profession and support groups to provide effective support strategies.

2010, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Meiring, CJ 2010, Just world beliefs, sense of coherence and proactive coping in parents with a child with autism, MEd dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-06142011-105625/ >


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