Date of Award

2005

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Social Sciences Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Judy Kulisa

Abstract

Self-efficacy refers to the individual's belief in their capacity to exert control over themselves as well as situations which impact upon them: perceptions of self-efficacy influence cognitive development, behavioural capacity and emotional states. Low self-efficacy is often associated with problematic drug use, inappropriate sexual activity, low academic achievement, anxiety, depression, self-harming and suicidal behaviours during adolescence. Conversely, high self-efficacy is generally correlated with high academic achievement, positive social relationships and formation of sexual identity, increased self-regulatory ability and positive vocation selection. This study sought to examine the experiences of a group of five young women, aged between thirteen and seventeen years, who interact with horses on a regular basis. A hermeneutical phenomenological approach is adopted to explore the relationships formed between the participants and their horses in an attempt to ascertain if self-efficacy is increased as a consequence of these interactions. Analysis of the data provides an understanding of the complexities of the relationships formed between the young women and their horses, and an exploration of the particular characteristics which combine to influence self-efficacy. The paper concludes that participant self-efficacy was increased as a consequence of their interactions with horses due to a combination of task and relationship-related challenges.

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