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Influences on life aspirations among adolescents in a low-income community in Cape Town, South Africa

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 25, issue 4, 2015 , pages: 320–326
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2015.1078089
Author(s): Gaironeesa Hendricks [cor1], Shazly SavahlDepartment of Psychology, South Africa, Kulthum MathewsDepartment of Psychology, South Africa, Claudia RaatsDepartment of Psychology, South Africa, Labeeqah JafferDepartment of Psychology, South Africa, Arnold MatzdorffDepartment of Psychology, South Africa, Bianca DekelDepartment of Psychology, South Africa, Christelle LarkeDepartment of Psychology, South Africa, Tapiwa MagodyoDepartment of Psychology, South Africa, Megan van GesselleenDepartment of Psychology, South Africa, Athena PedroDepartment of Psychology, South Africa


The aim of this study was to determine the influences on adolescents’ aspirations from a low-income community in Cape Town. A sequential mixed method exploratory design was used following two distinct phases. The qualitative phase comprised focus group interviews with 118 grade 12 learners attending a school in a low-income community (age range: 16–19 years) and focused on identifying factors influencing life aspirations. The quantitative phase with 191 adolescents (males = 54.45 %, females = 45.55 %); age range: 14–18 years) from the same community aimed to ascertain the influences of personal attributes on self-aspirations. Participants completed the Expectations/Aspirations measure, the New General Self-Efficacy Scale, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support. Qualitative data were thematically analysed. Quantitative data were analysed using multiple regression. The findings revealed that self-efficacy, self-esteem and social support were the most critical factors influencing adolescents’ aspirations. Self-efficacy was a major determinant of life aspirations among the adolescents. Life skills programmes with youth from disadvantaged communities should seek to incorporate training aimed at developing adolescents’ self-efficacy.

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