Subjective well-being in New Zealand teachers : an examination of the role of psychological capital : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Psychology, Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
This study examines the relationship between psychological capital and well-being in a
sample of 1,502 teachers. Teaching has been consistently identified as one of the most
stressful occupations, a situation that inherently raises questions about teacher wellbeing.
This study explores the extent to which psychological capital can act as a protective factor
against stress and also examines the role of appraisal and coping in the stress-strain
relationship. Teachers across New Zealand and from a range of teaching levels completed
surveys measuring psychological capital, challenge and threat appraisal, task-focussed and
emotion-focussed coping, affect, perceived stress, and life satisfaction. Data analysis
identified direct and indirect effects of psychological capital on outcome measures of wellbeing
and stress. Teachers with higher levels of psychological capital reported higher levels
of well-being and lower levels of stress. Psychological capital was positively related to life
satisfaction (r = .47, p <.01) and positive affect (r = .63, p <.01), and negatively related to
perceived stress (r = -.66, p <.01) and negative affect (r = -.61, p <.01). In addition,
psychological capital was a significant predictor of outcome measures. Psychological capital
was also positively related to challenge appraisal and task-focussed coping, and negatively
related to threat appraisal and emotion-focussed coping. Task-focussed coping was found to
mediate the relationship between challenge appraisal and measures of well-being.
Teachers high in psychological capital were more likely to appraise a situation as a challenge
than a threat, and as a partial mediator, task-focussed coping explained some of the
relationship between challenge appraisal and well-being.