Original Research

Positive affect and resilience: Exploring the role of self-efficacy and self-regulation. A serial mediation model

Daphne Pillay, Petrus Nel, Ebben van Zyl
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 48 | a1913 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v48i0.1913 | © 2022 Daphne Pillay, Petrus Nel, Ebben van Zyl | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 May 2021 | Published: 26 January 2022

About the author(s)

Daphne Pillay, Department of Human Resource Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Petrus Nel, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, School of Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Ebben van Zyl, Department of Industrial Psychology, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


Orientation: Resilience has become an invaluable asset for female leaders in higher education given the numerous barriers they have to overcome. Despite this, leadership development programmes tend to overlook the importance of resilience enhancing factors when offering support interventions for female leaders.

Research purpose: This study explores the role of psychological resources such as positive affect, self-efficacy and self-regulation and the processes between them that explain resilience.

Motivation for the study: Understanding how psychological resources can work independently and through each other to influence resilience, can prove beneficial for higher education institutions. This information can be used to design female leadership support programmes that enhance the appropriate psychological resources, which may assist with increasing resilience.

Research approach/design and method: This study employed a cross-sectional survey design with a non-probability sample of female leaders (n = 255) across multiple higher education institutions in South Africa. Mplus was used to determine the goodness-of-fit associated with the different constructs. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 27 and PROCESS macro by Hayes were used to conduct a series of statistical tests, including serial mediation analysis.

Main findings: Although the relationship between positive affect and resilience was mediated by self-efficacy and self-regulation (individually and in serial), positive affect had a positive association with resilience independent of the three indirect effects.

Practical/managerial implications: Higher education institutions can strengthen the resilience of female leaders through interventions that utilise positive affect, self-efficacy and self-regulation.

Contribution/value-addition: This study contributes towards research on the role of psychological resources in the context of female leadership and aims to explain the processes that may influence resilience.


positive affect; self-efficacy; self-regulation; resilience; serial mediation


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