Appraisal of Sociopolitical Change Among South African Youth: The Relation to Psychological Maladjustment


  • The present research was funded by a grant from the Kaplan Center at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Michelle Slone, Department of Psychology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel. E-mail:


The study aimed to assess the emotional effects of appraisals of the South African sociopolitical transition among adolescents. The central hypothesis predicted a direct relation between negativity of appraisals and psychological maladjustment indexes. Participants were 540 adolescents (Black and White), relatively evenly divided by race, gender, and school grade level. Appraisals were quantifiably measured using the Sociopolitical Change Scale (SCS), which was developed for the study; and maladjustment indexes were measured using the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI; Derogatis & Spencer, 1982). The hypothesis was confirmed for the Impact of Change factor of the SCS and was partially confirmed for the Evaluation factor. These findings suggest a direct relation between negative appraisals of the transition and psychological maladjustment. Interactions with the race variable indicate residual emotional effects, particularly among Black youth. Methodological, clinical, and political implications of these findings are explored.