Original Research

Psychological capital and climate change adaptation: Empirical evidence from smallholder farmers in South Africa

Unity Chipfupa, Aluwani Tagwi, Edilegnaw Wale
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 13, No 1 | a1061 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v13i1.1061 | © 2021 Unity Chipfupa, Aluwani Tagwi, Edilegnaw Wale | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 October 2020 | Published: 28 June 2021

About the author(s)

Unity Chipfupa, Department of Agriculture and Animal Health, School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa
Aluwani Tagwi, Department of Agriculture and Animal Health, School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa
Edilegnaw Wale, Department of Agricultural Economics, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


There are calls for better empirical models to inform climate change adaptation in smallholder agriculture. Hitherto adaptation studies have failed to comprehensively integrate non-cognitive behavioural factors (e.g. psychological capital), and there is also no common framework for measuring non-cognitive abilities of smallholder farmers. Hence, this study is the first attempt to assess how psychological capital affects climate change adaptation amongst smallholder farmers. The study estimated the multivariate probit regression model using data collected from 328 smallholder farmers in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. The results show an association between some psychological capital indicators and smallholder adaptation decisions. Social networks, having multiple farming objectives, access to credit and the type of farmer (irrigators vs. non-irrigators) were also significant in determining smallholders’ adaptation decisions. In conclusion, the study recommends the need for practical ways for enhancing smallholders’ endowment with key non-cognitive abilities. There is also a need for researchers to develop a comprehensive framework for assessing non-cognitive factors critical for climate change adaptation. This will improve the use of positive psychology theories to advance the literature on climate change adaptation. Support should also be provided to communities facing higher risks of climate change adaptation. More focus should also be given to improve smallholder farmers’ ability to adapt, including access to affordable credit. The role of social networks in information sharing remains critical, and hence their promotion should be prioritised. The findings on multiple objectives in farming were unique to climate change adaptation research, and hence the indicator should be considered in future similar studies.


psychological capital; smallholder farmers; climate change; adaptation; non-cognitive factors; adaptive capacity; multivariate probit.


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Crossref Citations

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