Original Research

Exploring the role of motivational and coping resources in a Special Forces selection process

Marié de Beer, Adelai van Heerden
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 40, No 1 | a1165 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v40i1.1165 | © 2014 Marié de Beer, Adelai van Heerden | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 July 2013 | Published: 21 July 2014

About the author(s)

Marié de Beer, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa
Adelai van Heerden, Behavioural Science Capability (Technology for Special Operations), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa


Orientation: Motivational and coping resources were explored within a military context by means of a mixed-methods survey study involving a group of Special Forces candidates.

Research purpose: The purpose was to compare selected and not-selected candidates in terms of their sense of coherence, hardiness, locus of control and self-efficacy and to explore what they considered important for success in the selection process.

Motivation for the study: Because of high attrition rates in Special Forces selection, the evaluation of the role of motivation and coping resources in terms of possible predictive utility could benefit the organisation from a logistical, financial and efficiency point of view.

Research design, approach and method: A mixed-method cross-sectional survey design was used to assess an all-male candidate group (N = 73). The selected and not-selected groups were compared with regard to their sense of coherence, hardiness, locus of control and self-efficacy mean scores.

Main findings: No statistically significant differences were found between the mean scores of the two groups concerning the quantitative measures used.

Practical/managerial implications: The quantitative measures generally showed acceptable coefficient alpha reliabilities. Although no statistically significant mean differences were found between the groups, candidates showed high levels of sense of coherence, high levels of self-efficacy and average levels of hardiness and internal locus of control. The qualitative data confirmed the relevance of the quantitative constructs and pointed to additional aspects already considered in preparation for and during the selection process.

Contribution/value-add: The results provide information regarding the constructs and measures used in a military context.


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Crossref Citations

1. Operational Forces soldiers’ perceptions of attributes and skills for career success
Ishreen Rawoot, Adelai Van Heerden, Laaiqah Parker
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology  vol: 43  year: 2017  
doi: 10.4102/sajip.v43i0.1440