City Research Online

The adjustment of South African immigrants to the United Kingdom: The development of a scale and an exploration of contributing factors

Schock, S. L. (1997). The adjustment of South African immigrants to the United Kingdom: The development of a scale and an exploration of contributing factors. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The topic of South African emigration has always been considered in political terms. The present study focuses specifically on the psychological aspects of South African immigrants in the UK. The adjustment of a sample of white, middle-class South Africans is examined, and the relationship between their psychological adjustment and a number of predictors is explored. Gender, support, education, length of stay, the number of reasons for leaving South Africa and marital status were taken into account to understand three measures of 'adjustment' and two measures of psychological state'.

Two hundred and sixteen South African immigrants responded to a survey mailed in 1996. The survey contained two standardized mental health measures: the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12, Goldberg, 1978), the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSE, Rosenberg, 1965), and a scale developed specifically by the researcher: "The South African Settlement Scale" (SASS). Satisfaction items were included in the six-part survey and biographical and other information were elicited by means of open-ended questions. A factor analysis of the 30-item SASS revealed five factors which corresponded closely to the dimensions proposed by Taft (1987) for the analysis of immigrant adjustment. The SASS proved to have good reliability and there was some evidence supporting construct validity.

Multiple regression analyses were performed to explore the relationships between three measures of adjustment’, two measures of 'psychological state', the length and degree of migration stress and a set of six predictors. Results indicated that length of time in the UK, education and reliable support were the most significant predictors of positive adjustment. Gender was found to be a reliable predictor of self-esteem and the degree of migration stress, and was approaching significance as a predictor of symptomatology. The number of reasons for leaving South Africa only predicted self-rated adjustment and symptomatology with slight significance. Neither age nor marital status appeared to have any effect on adjustment. The study showed that as a group, white, middle-class South Africans are satisfied with life in the UK, they are well-adjusted and they have high levels of self-esteem.

While the generalizability of the results is clearly limited, the study provides a valuable, first contribution to knowledge about South African settlers and baseline data for future comparisons. Some further limitations of the present study are considered. Suggestions are made for the facilitation of the psychological and social adjustment of people making the transition and for future research.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Schock thesis 1997 PDF-A.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Download (13MB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login