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Relationship Between Unemployment and Psychological Distress Among Graduates Essay Sample

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Relationship Between Unemployment and Psychological Distress Among Graduates Essay Sample

This research project titled unemployment and psychological distress among graduates is interested in investigating the causal relationship between unemployed graduates who are seeking for job and onset or manifestation of distress symptoms. Individual are conditioned quite young to the idea of getting a job and earning a living immediately after school and on the other hand, it must be acknowledged that many graduates struggle to find a job and thousands of graduates could not even find their first job after their National Youth Service despite the certificate they posses, those who are already working are doing their best to keep their jobs while those unemployed are praying for job opportunities and these makes the two parallel incompatible objectives of the employed and the unemployed. The transition from school to work is recognized by developmental psychology as a significant phase in the maturation of young adults (graduates) it represents their initiation onto the working adult word.

For the vast majority of them, their first job means a lot and determines their career; also they are no longer dependent of their parents. The question, what does he do for a living, what is your name and place of work, are normal questions surrounding introductions in a social gatherings. The unemployed usually arouse some degree of negative emotional feelings, while the employed replies in a more confident manner, such as; I am the sales rep of Jin Globals. The likelihood that the transition from school to work may be delayed by period of a prolonged unemployment is now greater than at any time since 1960s. the psychological and social consequences of such delay need to be understood because they may be damaging both to the individual and the society in general. There are many reasons for studying the effect of unemployment on young adults, in the first place, when the overall level of unemployment is high as it is during the recent recessions, it is the young adults who are affected. Although the ongoing distress may be less severe on young unemployed that the older adults. The effect of unemployment may be long lasting and produces not only a psychological damage but also negative attitude to the employed and to the society and government.

Unemployment since the 1980s has come to be seen as a major problem in Nigeria, it is an emergency in the developed countries and a serious problem in the developing countries, and it affects millions of people worldwide. In fact, it is the root of the problem of many adults who indulge in crimes. It disturbs the sleep of many and to other it is around the corner. Whether employment of the 1980s should be regarded as more or less serious than these wide spread unemployment of the 1990s is open for debate, however, the level of unemployment has not reached the level of the prevalent during the great depression (adams and magnum. 1978) moreover, the physical hardship endured by the unemployed today is no doubt less severe because of improved welfare benefits. On the other hand, some writers has argued that even so, psychological distress experienced by the currently unemployed, may be greater than was the case during the last decades.

Despite all the negative consequences of unemployment as a cause of a psychological distress by conceptualizing unemployment as a psychological stress that makes individual vulnerable to mental disorder, review of various theories of unemployment, other empirical findings, suggestions, implication, limitations, suggestion for further research and coping mechanism for unemployment. For this study, the symptom distress checklist 90 (SCL 90) developed by Derrogates (1977) adapted and validated for Nigerian use will be employed to obtain data from the unemployed and the employed group. This study will investigate gender difference in psychological distress manifestation among the unemployed group.

This study is proposed to look at the relationship between unemployment and the manifestation of distress symptom among graduates.

It will look at the gender differences in the manifestation of distress symptoms.

The study will also establish a link between unemployment and psychological distress.

The purpose of this study is to explore the psychological state of our unemployed graduates who are seeking for a job To determine which gender is more affected, such an understanding is essential to the counseling, clinical and social psychologists to enable them provide cognitive support for the unemployed. To understand unemployment as psychological distress which makes individuals vulnerable to mental disorder?


Graduates; Holder of university degree (Bsc) and holders of higher national diploma (HND) and has completed their national youth service program.

Psychological distress; it consist of negative emotions and related conditions which include, depression, anxiety, aggression, worry, minor physical symptoms, such as headache, sleeplessness, exhaustion and feelings of personal inadequacies or of impending nervous breakdown.

Unemployed; one who is active and qualified to work but has no work.


Theoretical review

Much of the research on unemployment has been a theoretical and some influential commentators such as Jahoda suggested that it is a good thing. (Jahoda 1988) Nevertheless, several theories has been proposed to explain the psychological effect of unemployment, the theories are broadly divided into two main categories, the specific and the general theories. The specific theories are; The stage theory

The deprivation theory
The general theories are;
Attribution theory
The theory of learned helplessness

Eisenberg and Lazarfield (1938) where the first to suggest this theory following their review of the 1930s literature, they suggest that the response to unemployment can be describe in terms of several discrete stages. They found that all the writers who have described the causes of unemployment seems to on the following points, first there is shock which is followed by active hunt for a job during which the individual is still pessimistic. He still maintains an unbroken attitude. Secondly, when all effort fails, the individual becomes anxious and suffer active distress. This is the most crucial stage of all. Thirdly, the individual becomes fantalistic and adapt himself to the new state but with narrow scope, he now has a broken attitude.

Jahoda’s deprivation theory (Jahoda, 1981,1982) is based on remark from Sigmund Freud (1930) that work represent our link with reality and without it we are in danger of being overwhelmed by fantasy and emotion. The theory assumed that work, in addition to its manifest function (providing income) has five latent functions which are psychological beneficial in that they keep us in touch with reality. Firstly, it a time structure on the waking day. Secondly, it provides social contacts with people outside the wide family. Thirdly, it imposes goal and purpose which transcends those of the individual. Fourthly, it defines status and identity and finally, it enforces activity. In addition, Jahoda definitely implies that even bad jobs are preferably to unemployment as he quoted “even the unpleasant job which ties one to reality are preferably to their absence’, these theory lend weight to the adage “half bread is better than one” which usually make our young unemployed to pick up a job just to keep up.

Weiner’s theory (weiner 1985) has propose an attribution analysis of motivation and emotion that attempt to explain how people will react to good and bad outcomes depending on the causal attribution they make. The theory assumes that emotional consequences of causal attribution of negative outcome such as unemployment will depend on their location on the three dimensions of locust (internal and external) stability (stable and unstable) controllability (controllable and uncontrollable). The theory assume that success and failure perceived as due to internal causes such as personality abilities or effort respectively, raises or lowers self esteem or self worth, whereas, external attribution for positive and negative outcomes do not influence feelings toward self.

EMPIRICAL REVIEW Studies on psychological impact on unemployment usually use inventories, statistical techniques and a control group for comparison. From a reviewed literature, a large number of cross sectional studies have been carried out. The study of Guney (1980, 1981) was carried out in Australian city of Melborine showed a significant difference between unemployed and employed using the self esteem scale (Rosenberg 1965) and Becks depression inventory (Becks, Ward, Mendel 1961). Studies have shown that on a range of measures of psychological wellbeing, young unemployed people are worse off than their employed counterparts, for instance, Banks and Jackson 1982 reported minor psychiatric disorder among unemployed British young graduates, using the general health questionnaires (Goldberg, 1978)

statement of problem, the following hypotheses were formulated for testing;

1. There will be significant difference between the unemployed and the employed graduate in manifestation of distress symptom.

2. There will be no gender significant difference among the unemployed in manifestation of distress symptom.



PARTICIPANTS; Young graduates who have completed their compulsory National youth Service Program were chosen as participants for this study. An initial sample of sixty (60) unemployed graduates were randomly selected, they were within the age of 26 – 31yrs old. An equal number of employed control group, who has been in employment for at least two years of the same age group. The unemployed will consist of thirty (30) males and thirty (30) females, while the employed will consist of 30 males and 30 females. The gender equalization is to enable the researcher test for gender difference.

INSTRUMENT; The Nigerian adapted symptoms distress checklist 90 (SCL 90) will be used to find the extent of psychological distress in the participants. The SCL 90 comprises of ninety (90) items designed to assess ten10 primary categories of symptoms associated with distress among psychiatric outpatients and general population with experience of anguish arising from problem of living. The ten (10) categories with number of items are Somatization, (12), Obsessive – Compulsive (10), interpersonal sensitivity (9) Depression (13) Anxiety (10) Hostility (6) Phobic anxiety (7) Paranoid Ideation (6) Psychoticism (10) Neuroticism (7). In a Likert scale like form with 5 alternatives of 0, 1,2,3,4, indicating how much the problem have bothered the individual. The SCL90 was developed by Derrogatis et al (1977).

PROCEDURE; The researcher will create a rapport with the participants to elicit their sincere and candid responses. The participants will be advised to read the instruction on the instrument, they will be ask to circle or shade any of the numbers 0,1,2,3,4 that best describe how they have been bothered or distressed by the problem, they will be advised not to leave out any statement and also not to waste much time on a question.


A 2 by 2 survey research design will be used.

This psychological test is design to assess people motivation as they pertain to workplace. They are utilized to help predict the match between people’s behavioral style and values and that of the organization.

There are no rights or wrong answers to this scale.

Please rate each according to how it would affect your motivation to work, by circling the appropriate option to complete the sentence.

A Greatly reduce my motivation to work

B Tends to reduce my motivation to work

C Has no effect on my motivation to work

D Tends to increases my motivation to work

E Greatly increases my motivation to work

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