Implicit versus explicit self-defense instruction on self-efficacy, affect, and subjective well-being

Thumbnail Image





Sanders, Margaret P.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


East Carolina University


A rising concern that has been associated as a public health issue is violence and violent crimes. In an effort to counter issues associated with violence and violent crimes, communities and individuals will seek some form of self-defense training. Research conducted on self-defense has shown that such training can have a positive impact on a person's self-efficacy and affect. As one of the greatest mediates of behavior, self-efficacy is essential to the success of promoting proper self-defense techniques. The training and instructional environment of a self-defense program is also key when it comes to acquisition of self-defense skills. Two learning types identified by motor learning has being beneficial to the learning of a new motor skill is implicit learning and explicit learning. Implicit learning is learning with unconscious awareness that is not easily verbalized, whereas explicit learning is learning derived from verbal instruction and rules. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of an implicit versus explicit six-week self-defense training program on self-efficacy, affect, and subjective well-being. Thirty participants (28 women, 2 men), primarily identified as older adults, were randomly assigned to an implicit or explicit group, with both groups participating in a six-week self-defense training program. Participants completed a Self-Defense Self-Efficacy scale, PANAS-X questionnaire, Personal Well-being Index-Adult, and Subjective Vitality scale before and after the intervention to assess each variable. A skills test was used to measure acquisition of skill and retention. A repeated measure of ANOVA, post hoc test, and an independent samples t-test were conducted to evaluate skill acquisition, self-efficacy, positive and negative affect, and subjective well-being. Data analysis showed that an implicit self-defense training program lead to greater skill acquisition versus an explicit program. Participation in a six-week self-defense program also lead to an increase in self-efficacy, positive affect, and subjective well-being. No changes were experienced by either group when it came to decreasing negative affect. The findings of the study coincided with previous research on self-defense and self-efficacy. At the same time, the findings of the study filled a void within research, regarding the impact implicit/explicit learning has on self-defense, subjective well-being, and older adults. The findings of the study are unique for the older population, since minimal research has been done to examine this population when it comes to self-defense. Based on the findings, future research should focus further on investigating the effects of self-defense training and implicit/explicit learning on older adults. In addition, future research should continue to evaluate the impact of implicit/explicit learning and self-defense on self-efficacy and subjective well-being. As the US population grows older and violence remains a concern, it will be imperative for research to identify effective forms of self-defense and the ongoing benefits of such training.