Title page for ETD etd-11262008-114414

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Moller, Anneli
URN etd-11262008-114414
Document Title The relationship between coping behaviour, personality characteristics and psychological distress in South African police trainees
Degree Master of Arts
Department Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Dr E du Preez Co-Supervisor
Dr N Cassimjee Supervisor
  • psychological profile
  • coping behaviour
  • personality characteristics
  • psychological distress
  • temperament
  • character
  • resilience
  • pretrauma variables
  • psychometric properties
Date 2008-09-05
Availability unrestricted

The purpose of the study is to explore the psychological profile of South African police trainees. A literature study highlighted three important pretrauma variables that can influence an individualís resilience when stressful circumstances occur. These variables include coping behaviour, personality characteristics and psychological distress. The primary goal of the research was to explore whether a relationship exists between these pretrauma variables and if demographic differences occur. Police officers in South Africa are exposed to violent circumstances, which can have a negative impact on their psychological functioning; it is therefore important to explore which psychological profiles are more likely to result in resilience. Studies such as this one can be used to facilitate the selection of resilient police officers in South Africa.

A quantitative research investigation was conducted using three instruments namely, the Ways of Coping Questionnaire (WOC), Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) and the Symptom Checklist-90-R (SCL-90-R). As a secondary aim, the psychometric properties of these instruments were briefly explored. A sample of 150 police trainees was selected to take part in the research study during their first six months in training, before entering the field. The selected sample size yielded a total of 142 completed tests. The participants were selected using a method of stratified random sampling, which resulted in an equal distribution of male and female trainees.

The results confirm that the trainees are more likely to use adaptive coping mechanisms, and are generally psychologically healthy. As expected, significant relationships exist between the three pretrauma variables under investigation.

©University of Pretoria 2008

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