The relationship between self-efficacy and aggression in a group of adolescents in the peri-urban town of Worcester, South Africa: Implications for sport participation

  • M Willemse
  • MR Smith
  • SB van Wyk
Keywords: Self-efficacy, aggression, adolescents, mental health


Adolescence is a trying developmental stage and the high levels of violence that many adolescents are exposed to in South Africa could negatively influence their well-being. Self-efficacy is reported to be facilitated through interventions, such as sport which in turn makes it an important protective factor for adolescent well-being. Hence, this study aimed at determining the nature of the relationship between perceived self-efficacy and self-reported aggression in an adolescent sample. The study also aimed at exploring whether there are significant differences in perceived self-efficacy and self-reported aggression in terms of participants’ gender, age and residential area. Three high schools in the peri-urban town of Worcester from mid- to low socio-economic communities were selected and 344 Afrikaans-speaking high school learners were randomly sampled. The Self-efficacy Questionnaire for children and the Aggression questionnaire were used to measure self-efficacy and aggression, respectively. Both instruments reported good psychometric properties with Kappas exceeding 0.07. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics, correlation matrices and analysis of variance. The findings indicated that there is a significant inverse relationship between self-efficacy and aggression (r = -.17, p<.05). A modest, positive correlation was found between emotional self-efficacy and verbal aggression (r= .13, p< .05) and hostility (r = .12, p< .05) for the whole group. Females scored significantly higher in overall self-efficacy, perceived academic self-efficacy, and emotional efficacy than males (p< .00), as well as in social self-efficacy (p< .05). Adolescents from peri-urban settings scored significantly higher than adolescents from rural settings on overall self-efficacy and emotional efficacy (p< .00), as well as in perceived social self efficacy (p< .05). Males reported significantly higher levels of physical aggression (p< .00), whereas females reported significantly higher levels of hostility (p< .00). The results contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between self-efficacy and aggression. This aids in understanding the underlying psychological mechanism that facilitates the proposed buffering effect of sport-based interventions.

Key words: Self-efficacy, aggression, adolescents, mental health.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1117-4315