Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Psychological Capital: Internal and External Validity of the Psychological Capital Questionnaire (PCQ-24) on a South African Sample

Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Psychological Capital: Internal and External Validity of the Psychological Capital Questionnaire (PCQ-24) on a South African Sample

Article excerpt


Key focus and problem statement

Occupational stress and burnout are serious problems in modern organisations. The cost of high stress and burnout levels to employers include higher staffturnover, lower morale, excessive sick leave and reduced productivity and efficiency (e.g. Cordes & Dougherty, 1993; Lee & Ashforth, 1996; Schaufeli & Enzmann, 1998; Wright & Bonett, 1997). Studies from the emerging field of positive organisational behaviour (POB) (Luthans, 2002) have shown that the construct of psychological capital (PsyCap) (i.e. a higher order constellation of positive psychological components that consists of hope, optimism, self-efficacy and resilience), may contribute to decreased stress (e.g. Avey, Luthans & Jensen, 2009) and increased work engagement (Avey, Wernsing & Luthans, 2008). Within the framework of Hobfoll's (2002) psychological resources theory, Luthans, Youssef and Avolio (2007, p. 10) define PsyCap as 'an individual's positive psychological state of development, characterised by: (1) having confidence (self-efficacy) to take on and put in the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks; (2) making a positive attribution (optimism) about succeeding now and in the future; (3) persevering towards goals, and when necessary, redirecting paths to goals (hope) in order to succeed; and (4) when beset by problems and adversity, sustaining and bouncing back and even beyond (resiliency) to attain success'. In essence, PsyCap represents an individual's, 'positive appraisal of circumstances and probability for success based on motivated effort and perseverance' (Luthans, Avolio, Avey & Norman, 2007, p. 550). PsyCap has been shown to impact a range of workplace outcomes like job performance (Luthans, Avolio, Avey & Norman, 2007; Luthans, Avolio, Walumbwa & Li, 2005), stress (e.g. Avey et al., 2009) and well-being (Culberson, Fullagar & Mills, 2010).

Given the promise that the construct of PsyCap may hold as a personal resource that may affect various health-related and other workplace outcomes, the measurement thereof (i.e. Psychological Capital Questionnaire - Self Rater Version, PCQ-24, Luthans, Avolio, Avey & Norman, 2007) should be validated for use within the South African context. It is not uncommon to use foreign-developed psychological tests (e.g. PCQ-24 developed in the USA) in South Africa (Oakland, 2004). However, test transportability should be substantiated by investigating the psychometric properties of the instrument when used on a South African sample. This study attempted to provide internal and external validation (in terms of outcomes related to PsyCap) evidence in favour of using the PCQ-24 as a measure of the PsyCap construct within South Africa.

Background to the study

Psychological capital is a relatively novel construct. The PCQ-24 was developed abroad (i.e. USA). The instrument can be considered a monocentered instrument (Van de Vijver & Leung, 2001), that is an instrument stemming from a single Western cultural background. Hence, the portability of the PCQ-24 to a culturally diverse and predominantly non-Western environment should be investigated, before inferences derived from the measure can be used with confidence within the South African environment. Currently only one published South African study (Du Plessis & Barkhuizen, 2011) reporting on the factor structure of the PCQ-24 exist. According to the authors the results of the EFA revealed a three-factor structure underlying the PCQ-24 (based on a predominantly White, male sample), suggesting the merging of the self-efficacy (confidence) and hope sub-dimensions. However, the results were not clearly interpretable, given the fact that multiple items cross-loaded and most of the original items did in fact not load on the intended dimensions they were designed to reflect (Du Plessis & Barkhuizen, 2011). No CFA was conducted on the instrument in that study. …

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