Darren Coppin

Date of Submission



Unemployment has been found to have a detrimental impact on an individual’s well-being and mental health. This thesis aims to enhance our understanding of whether all jobseekers are truly jobseeking and explore what can be done to support behaviour changes in those who are not initially committed to returning to work. A first study tested the predictive validity of a stage of change measure on the re-employment success of 1,247 unemployed Australians. The study evidenced that different stages of commitment to jobseeking exist, and re-employment success rates corresponded to the predictions of the transtheoretical model of change. The stages are precontemplation (not considering getting a job), contemplation (not yet trying to get a job), preparation (wanting a job, but lacking confidence) and the action stage (actively seeking a job). This study uncovered a new stage of change, labelled unauthentic action (going through the motions of seeking a job without genuine commitment or confidence in gaining one). A second study tested the hypothesis that interventions focused on building well-being, resilience and self-efficacy may be packaged into a single psychosocial workshop (PS) to improve re-employment rates in a treatment group of 16- to 25-year-old unemployed Australians (N=75) versus a comparison group who received treatment as usual (TAU. N=257). The treatment group achieved significantly higher re-employment and sustained employment (13 weeks+) outcomes. A third study applied this PS intervention on a larger scale to adult jobseekers (N=2,459, with 549 randomly assigned to the PS program and 1,910 to TAU), measuring responses to the treatment corresponding to different stages of change. An important focus of the study was evaluating the extent to which the PS intervention effects were moderated by key variables in addition to the jobseeker’s stage of change. These variables included gender, age, location and length of time unemployed. As hypothesised, the PS intervention had varying effects corresponding with different stages of readiness to change. It was more effective than TAU among people classified as being in the precontemplation, contemplation, unauthentic action and preparation stages. However, the PS intervention added no value above TAU for those classified in the action stage (actively seeking a job). Study IV sought to build on Studies II and III by adding a customised one-to-one coaching program that was stage-matched to a jobseeker’s readiness for change, in addition to the group workshops. Given the ineffectiveness of the PS intervention for those in the action stage, and for pragmatic reasons, this group was provided only with the stage-matched coaching treatment. Variables were tracked to establish whether demographics such as age, gender, region, government jobseeker classification (‘stream’) and ethnicity impacted the efficacy of the intervention. This study involved 20,057 jobseekers who were randomly assigned to either the PS intervention (N=8,028) or TAU (N=12,029). The intervention, comprising both the PS intervention and stage-matched coaching, was more effective than TAU regardless of stage of change, age, gender and ethnicity (e.g. indigenous versus non-indigenous). The intervention was not effective for those living in remote areas and may have even had a negative influence. In this thesis, we discuss the importance of considering stage of change and context when utilising positive PS interventions to improve re-employment rates for the unemployed.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


302 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Health Sciences