Original Research

The role of socio-demographic variables and their interaction effect on sense of coherence

Antoni Barnard
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 39, No 1 | a1073 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v39i1.1073 | © 2013 Antoni Barnard | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 September 2012 | Published: 22 October 2013

About the author(s)

Antoni Barnard, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa

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Orientation: Socio-demographics play a role in sense of coherence (SOC), indicating the strength of resistance resources available to employees from different socio-demographic groupings.

Research purpose: To explore whether and how socio-demographic variables and their interactive effect determine a distinctively high or low SOC.

Motivation for the study: Various studies include an exploration of the role of socio-demographic attributes on SOC, yet do not investigate the interactive effect of these socio-demographics on high or low SOC.

Research design, approach and method: Quantitative, cross-sectional survey design. The chi-square interaction detection method (CHAID) was applied to a large-scale employee sample (n = 7185). Confirmatory analysis was done by exploring predictor effects on two possible permutations of high or low SOC classifications.

Main findings: Results indicated a statistically significant four-factor interactive effect of demographic variables on SOC. Level of income most strongly partitioned high to low SOC ratio groups. Marital status and number of dependants, with level of income, further distinguished statistically distinct high to low SOC ratio groups. Race indicated distinct high to low SOC ratio groups in the higher income group. No statistically significant effects were found for age and gender.

Practical/managerial implications: Companies should provide lower income employees with financial counselling and special support for single or divorced employees and employees who are married but the sole household earner. In the middle to high income category employee assistance should cater for employees with dependants and especially for the sole household earners.

Contribution/value-add: Establishing whether and how demographic variables predict high to low SOC ratios broadens the theoretical knowledge base of SOC. The study contributes methodologically in its application of CHAID analysis.


Sense of coherence; Wellness; Salutogenic approach; General resistance resources; Orientation to life questionnaire; Chi-square interaction detection method; CHAID


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