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Foundations of Locus of Control: Theory, Research, and Practice in the First 50 Years

Foundations ofLocus ofControl
Looking Back over a Half- Century of Research
in Locus of Control of Reinforcement
During the 50years since the concept of locus of control was rst intro-
duced by Julian Rotter, so much has been written about this construct
and its variants that it may be easy to forget where it originally came from
and how it was initially dened and measured. To be sure, one of the
main reasons for the publication of this book is to celebrate the 50th an-
niversary of Rotter’s article presenting the concept of locus of control of
reinforcement (LOC- R). It seems tting, at this moment in time, to look
back at what has happened theoretically and empirically during the life-
time of this concept. We are thankful that we have been involved for so
long in what has turned out to be such a popular and useful psychological
construct. Having been occupied with locus of control research since its
early years, we are also pleased to be given this opportunity to pause and
give our personal views on what has transpired over the past four decades.
Our goal in this chapter is multifold. First, we will continue the nar-
rative begun in Chapter 2 of this volume by our life- long friend and
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colleague Bonnie Ruth Strickland. Second, we will briey revisit Rotter’s
original theory and the measure it produced to set the groundwork to
show how, over the years, the concept of locus of control or reinforcement
may have become untethered from its original social learning theoreti-
cal roots but failed to be re- tethered to a larger body of theory that could
provide context and direction for its future study and application. ird,
we will look at the “word” problem caused by the proliferation of similar-
sounding terms for what Rotter called “locus of control of reinforcement”
and wonder aloud which additional terms refer to Rotter’s construct or to
something dierent. Fourth, as part of our retrospective view, we want
to pick out and highlight some examples of research that we think have
been especially helpful in clarifying how locus of control of reinforce-
ment develops, operates, and maintains its central role in psychology.
Fih, we describe the problems presented by the daunting number of
locus of control- like measures that have been introduced over the years—
some psychometrically well- developed, some not— that make it exceed-
ingly dicult to compare ndings across studies and/ or to summarize
what is and is not known about LOC- R. Finally, we want to revisit and
re- evaluate the recommendations and conclusions we made in our 1982
chapter in the light of the research that followed.
We rst met Bonnie Ruth Strickland at Emory University in the late
1960s. She introduced us two young professors to the writings of Julian
Rotter and his social learning theory (SLT), just as she introduced him
and his theory earlier to the readers of this book. Although the three of us
were together for a relatively brief period of time before Bonnie le Emory
to take a professorship at the University of Massachusetts, we were able
to complete a number of studies and develop measures that have stood
the test of time and have been used in well over 2,000 studies (Nowicki,
2015). When we developed our scales, we believed then— as we still do
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Locus of Control of Reinforcement 149
now— that it was crucially important for our test construction to be
guided by (1)Rotter’s denition of the LOC- R as a generalized expectancy
concept functioning within his SLT; (2) a commitment to consistency
with his adult unidimensional test, but with an easier reading level, and
(3)a desire to develop comparable forms of our LOC- R measure to allow
for testing across the life span from young children through older adults.
Consistent with these assumptions, we constructed tests for preschool
and primary age children (the Preschool and Primary Nowicki Strickland
Internal External scale [PPNSIE], Nowicki & Duke, 1974a), for children
(the Children’s Nowicki- Strickland Internal- External scale [CNSIE],
Nowicki & Strickland, 1973), for adults (the Adult Nowicki Strickland
Internal- External scale [ANSIE]; Nowicki & Duke, 1974b), and for geriat-
ric adults (GNSIE; Duke, Shaheen, & Nowicki 1974). e life span scales
allow researchers to gather information from participants from 5years of
age through advanced age. Comparable measures across age make it pos-
sible to study the growth or decline of control expectancies over time, in-
formation necessary for informing those who wish to develop programs
to changeLOC- R.
Bonnie Strickland’s chapter described Rotter’s work leading up to the
publication of his LOC- R measure in 1966 and our early work at Emory.
In 1982, we updated and summarized the research that had been com-
pleted over the previous decade with the Nowicki Strickland Internal
External (NSIE) measures in the second volume of a classic series of
books on locus of control edited by Herbert Lefcourt (Lefcourt, 198183).
ese three volumes sought to describe the state of a eld of study whose
origins could be traced back to the publication of Julian Rotter’s 1966 ar-
ticle. Rotter himself (1990) noted that his article set o a tidal wave of re-
search that continues to the present day with more than 500,000“hits” on
the term on a search of Google Scholar. However, what once was a clearly
dened, global, generalized expectancy construct that functioned as a
major component of Rotter’s SLT (1954) appears to have morphed into
a complex array of concepts that sometimes appear to be only tangen-
tially related to the original LOC- R concept introduced by Rotter. Even in
the 1980s, we could sense that Lefcourts three volumes were straining to
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contain all that was going on in the eld loosely encompassed by Rotter’s
original locus of control denition and its measurement. Reected by the
fact that, some 20years later, Ellen Skinner (1996) was able to nd more
than 100 dierent denitions of locus of control in the literature suggests
that attempts to accurately capture and dene the LOC- R concept have
yet to be totally successful.
e LOC- R is not an isolated atheoretical construct that Rotter discovered
but is instead a concept that developed through reasoning within Rotter’s
(1954) SLT, a theory that was published some 12years before his article
introducing LOC- R. Briey, for Rotter, behavior didn’t occur as a simple
reexive reaction to objective stimuli; rather, it was a result of a com-
plex interaction among factors such as people’s histories of learning, life
experiences, and stimuli experienced both inside and outside of aware-
ness. Rotter (1954) and Lefcourt (1976) provide descriptions of the four
theoretical components of SLT:behavior potential (BP, the likelihood that
a behavior will occur), expectancy (E, subjective belief in the likelihood
that a behavior will lead to a specic outcome), reinforcement value (RV,
subjective positive/ negative valence of a given outcome), and psychologi-
cal situation (RS, subjective interpretation of the situation). ese compo-
nents are represented by the formula:BP=f(E & RV), which reects that,
in a particular situation, the potential for a behavior to occur is a function
of the subjective value of the outcome and the subjective expectancy that,
if the behavior is performed, it will successfully lead to the desired out-
come. To better understand where locus of control ts in to Rotter’s SLT,
it helps to know that SLT includes a number of both general and specic
concepts (Rotter, 1954). Generalized expectancies (GEs) are assumed to
best predict broad ranges of outcomes across many situations; specic
concepts best predict narrow outcomes within the expectancy concept.
Generalized expectancies are not traits; they var y with experience across
and within situations. As a GE, LOC- R is assumed to have its maximum
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Locus of Control of Reinforcement 151
impact on behavior when individuals’ have little or no experience in the
situation or when the situation is ambiguous, amorphous, or uid. As spe-
cic experience is gained from being in a particular situation, the ability
of a GE such as LOC- R to aect behavior should diminish, and specic
expectancies learned from being experienced in the situation should take
its place. However, should a situation change and therefore become “new”
again (as, e.g., when a company is going through a management transition
or when a child faces a change in teachers in school), then GEs may once
again become important predictors of behavior. In fact, it is when people
nd themselves in situations that may suddenly or unpredictably change
that LOC- R may determine dierent behavioral reactions to the change.
Rotter pointed out in his original article (1966) and later (Rotter 1975,
1990)that his unidimensional original scale was most appropriate for
predicting broad- based behavioral outcomes. Rotter oen pointed out
that he preferred a scale that would provide LOC- Rs for each of the six
basic needs described in his SLT, but his early attempts failed. One could
also surmise that the popularity of his unidimensional measure may have
had something to do with Rotter’s lack of attempt to create more specic
content measures. Or, perhaps he realized that he didn’t need to because
almost immediately aer the publication of his locus of control scale in
1966 others began to try their hands at constructing all sorts of more spe-
cic content and multidimensional scales varying in types of externality.
irty years aer Rotter placed LOC- R on the conceptual table of indi-
vidual dierence research, Ellen Skinner (1996) provided a glimpse of
what had happened to the notion that had spawned thousands of articles
and research reports over this time period. According to Skinner, LOC- R
had oen been shortened simply to “control,” and the number of terms
that were being used to describe it— or things clearly like it or derived
from it— had grown in number to more than 100! Astonishingly, Rotter
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was not even mentioned in the opening paragraph of Skinner’s “Guide to
Constructs of Control,” with Herb Lefcourt (198183) being cited as rep-
resentative of the concept. With regard to the 100- plus concepts/ terms,
Skinner noted:“Even a cursory consideration of the area reveals a large
number of terms, which, although dierent, nevertheless seem to be in-
terrelated and partially overlapping” (1996, p.549). She goes on to state
that, “within the total set of terms, some appear to be dierent labels for
the same construct” and “Probably most confusing are cases in which the
same term is used to refer to dierent constructs.” Exemplifying the latter
is the term, “perceived control” which, in addition to being the title of this
very volume, appears to have emerged, now 20years on from Skinner’s
pause in the proceedings and 50years aer Rotter (1966), as the prevail-
ing replacement for LOC- R itself.
e increasing number of LOC- R terms and the resulting theoreti-
cal and empirical confusion surrounding them evoke a caution typically
credited to Kelley (1927) in his warnings about jingle and jangle fallacies.
e “jingle fallacy” refers to the use of a single term to describe a multi-
plicity of quite dierent things. For example, we cannot be sure that the
word “control” in “perceived control” means the same as the same word in
locus of control of reinforcement. In contrast, the “jangle fallacy” occurs
when identical or almost identical things are thought to be dierent be-
cause they are labeled dierently. Our problem here is that we cannot be
sure whether dierent uses of “control” terms actually are dierent from
one another or perhaps simply are other ways of referring to the origi-
nal LOC- R introduced by Rotter. Some help was given by Peterson and
Stunkard (1992), who made a clear dierentiation among the concepts of
locus of control, self- ecacy, and attribution.
In the midst of the confusion produced by the proliferation of deni-
tions and terms, we want to highlight examples of writers who have made
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Locus of Control of Reinforcement 153
important contributions to our understanding of the ways in which “con-
trol” beliefs guide people’s behaviors in a wide variety of circumstances.
ere has been a remarkable amount of study over the past 50years and
especially more recently. To be sure, with a search of PsychInfo resulting
in 17,812 articles with a keyword “locus of control” as of summer 2015
and with 6,600 of these appearing aer 1996 (1,425 between 2010 and
2015), “locus of control” has sustained itself as a concept for psychological
study. However, it cannot be ignored that separate studies of “perceived
control” now number 7,718, with their upward slope clearly seen in there
having been only 2,211 studies of the concept between 1966 and 1996 but
2,130 between 2010 and 2015. One could conclude that, at this juncture,
studies of locus of control and perceived control are being published at a
similarly high rate. e question is, are they truly dierent constructs?
If not, and they are referring to a similar construct, then the number is
astonishing. If they are dierent, then each has produced its own impres-
sive amount of research.
How to deal with this amazing, cumbersome, inconsistent, and con-
fusing literature is a challenging conceptual problem. We want to high-
light some studies that we believe have helped to clarify the conceptual
haze surroundingLOC- R.
We have already referred to Skinner’s (1996) courageous attempt to de-
velop “an integrative framework, designed to organize the heterogeneous
constructs related to ‘control’ ” (p.549). In identifying the more than 100
dierent terms presented for what appears to be the same or very similar
notions, Skinner helped researchers to focus on two of the major prob-
lems that have characterized the study of personal control since its very
inception:denition and measurement. Skinner’s helpful “advance” was
to remind investigatorsthat:
both objective control and subjective control require that two con-
ditions be met:ere must be at least one means that is eective
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in producing a desired outcome or in preventing an undesired
one, and the individual must have access to that means. In other
words, a sense of control includes a view of the self as competent
and ecacious and a view of the world as structured and respon-
sive. (1996, p.559)
Combined with her remarkable listing of 111“dierent” conceptualiza-
tions and terms for “control,” Skinner’s “Guide to Constructs of Control”
reminds us all of the complexities implicit in what can sometimes be mis-
takenly seen as a simple concept
Predating Skinner but similar in pointing us to useful ways we should
think about personal control is the work of Rothbaum, Weisz, and Snyder
(1982). ey are important for several reasons. First, their work represents
one of the earliest theoretical explications of “perceived control.” Second
is the remarkable fact that they proposed their model of perceived control
without any reference to Rotter’s work or the by- then already copious body
of literature dealing with the relationship between SLT and people’s sense of
control over what happens to them. ird, they appeared to have set aside
the “of reinforcement” aspect of the original concept of LOC- R oered by
Rotter. Perceived control was simply thata need for control, with no men-
tion of “control of what?” To be fair and accurate, Rothbaum etal. did not
set aside locus of control totally; instead, they separated it from its connec-
tion to the originating SLT theoretical context. In place of that context, they
proposed a dierentiation between primary and secondary control.
People attempt to gain control not only by bringing the environment
into line with their wishes (primary control) but also by bringing
themselves into line with environmental forces (secondary control).
(Rothbaum etal., 1982,p.5)
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Locus of Control of Reinforcement 155
With their notion that “control” can be exercised on both the “inside”
as well as on “outside environments,” Rothbaum etal. expanded the
concept of locus of control by introducing the option that people can try
to control not only what happens to them but also how they respond to
what happens to them. To be sure, the authors acknowledge that their
idea has its historical roots in the earlier theorizing of Viktor Frankl
(2006), but they updated it and showed how it might be applied to help
us understand the behavior of internally and externally controlled
J. Heckhausen and Schulz applied the concepts of primary and secondary
control (Rothbaum etal., 1982)to developmental life stages (Heckhausen
& Schulz, 1995). Building on the earlier work of H.Heckhausen (1977),
they proposed that there were “life- course developmental changes” in the
degree to which people depended on or activated dierent manifestations
of control over what happens to them and/ or how they responded to what
happened to them. Although they emphasized that primary control— the
eort to alter the environment— is our preferred mode of exercising inter-
nal locus of control (ourterm):
secondary control strategies can foster development and enhance
primary control by contributing to the selection of action alterna-
tives throughout the life course; and when primary control is threat-
ened or lost, secondary control strategies can help maintain or mini-
mize losses in primary control. (1995, p.286)
Heckhausen and Schulz’s life span view thus proposes that “internally
controlled” people have two choices:change the environment or change
themselves, cognitively and/ or emotionally. In either case, control can be
both perceived and exercised. ey further assumed that as people aged
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and became less able to alter the external world, they would likely fall
back on alteration/ adaptation of their internal states (secondary control).
In our view, the addition of a life span perspective represents an impor-
tant theoretical emphasis in how to think about locus of control, espe-
cially in regards to studying elderly and chronically ill populations (e.g.,
Claassens etal.,2014).
Rather than focusing on time across a life span, Frazier and her colleagues
(Frazier etal., 2011; Frazier etal., 2012)emphasized the role of past expe-
riences and future expectations in determining present behavior. More
specically, Frazier etal. (2012) proposed that “dierent temporal aspects
of control (i.e., past, present, and future) have markedly dierent relations
with adjustment and needed to be clearly dierentiated from each other”
Although their primary interest was in understanding and treating
post- traumatic stress disorder, embedded in Frazier’s work was a locus of
control model that not only relates personal perception of what happens
to people in terms of internal versus external forces but also connects this
belief system to the development of pathological versus nonpathological
outcomes. us, for example, perceived internal locus of control regard-
ing past events can lead to negative outcomes and create feelings of guilt,
remorse, or depression. On the other hand, perceived internal control for
future events has the capacity to invoke hope that things will get better
rather than anxiety. Beyond the theoretical contribution (Frazier et al.
2011), Frazier etal. (2012) also summarized the support for their temporal
model in the followingway:
[P] ast (internal) control was consistently related to more distress,
despite the assumption in the literature that controllable events are
less distressing. Future (internal) control was generally unrelated to
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Locus of Control of Reinforcement 157
distress. In contrast, present (internal) control was consistently
related to less distress as well as greater life satisfaction and physical
health. (p.628)
It must be noted that Frazier et al.’s conclusion regarding “present
control” is essentially consistent with the massive available literature
showing the relationship between internal locus of control and adap-
tive and maladaptive functioning. In addition, their emphasis on what
has happened in the past appears very similar to what Rotter called
“reinforcement history” in his original SLT, a welcome and signicant
convergence of theoretical approaches.
Whereas the previous studies we have described have been largely con-
cerned with dierentiating among aspects of the control concept, the last
study we want to call to your attention seeks not only to bring the dispa-
rate areas of control together, but to also actually include them under an
even larger conceptual umbrella. Judge, Erez, Bono, and oresen (2002)
raised the possibility that there might be a “common core construct” that
resolves all of the jingle and jangle problems we alluded to earlier. e
authors suggested that there were theoretical and conceptual similari-
ties among four popularly studied personality characteristics:self- esteem,
neuroticism, locus of control, and generalized self- ecacy. e four con-
structs had been the focus of more than 53,000 studies by2002.
Based on a series of psychometric studies to establish reliability and
an extensive set of meta- analyses to explore whether the constructs were
truly dierent from one another, Judge etal. determined that the mea-
sures of the four constructs were strongly related to one another and
displayed “relatively poor discriminant validity.” ey concluded that
“in light of these results, [we] suggest that measures purporting to assess
self- esteem, locus of control, neuroticism and generalized self- ecacy
may be markers of the same higher order construct” (p.693). ey then
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went on to propose a number of possible options for what these results
meant for each of the four constructs. One clear possibility is that the
common core they found actually reects the central SLT notions of
expectancy, reinforcement history, and belief in one’s ability to control
Whether our supposition is correct or there may be some other higher
order construct involved, we believe the results of this study help to high-
light a second major problem endemic to the personal control area:the
failure to fully develop construct- valid measures of LOC- R that include
convincing evidence of discriminative and convergent validity, a topic we
Not only is there a major problem in agreeing on a common denition of
locus of control, but there also are substantial diculties in constructing
acceptable measuring instruments for each denition oered. e lack
of an agreed- upon denition coupled with measurement shortcomings
make it dicult to compare results across studies and draw useful in-
sights and conclusions. In light of this, it is truly remarkable that so many
ndings have been replicated in so many populations.
It is dicult to know to what “locus of control” in the title of an article
refers. Does it denote content- specic, unidimensional, multi- sources of
externality, or perhaps not even locus of control but related constructs
of self- ecacy and/ or attribution? Regardless of what “type” of locus of
control is being conceptualized, readers may also encounter “tests” with
unknown psychometric characteristics either because they do not exist or
exist but are not reported or else the authors have come up with their own
face- valid set of questions or taken a few items from a longer construct-
valid test to use as their measure with the assumption that their briefer
scale will be as construct- valid as the originaltest.
One especially knotty problem is the construct- validity relationship re-
quirements for generalized and specic expectancy measures. Furnham
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Locus of Control of Reinforcement 159
and Steele (1993) were especially critical of authors of specic expectancy
tests for failing to provide evidence that their scales predict “incremen-
tally” better than the generalized scales. At times, authors have just pre-
sented evidence that their content- specic expectancy tests were related
to relevant content outcomes without showing that these associations
were signicantly better than those obtained by generalized expectancy
Some reviews have shown, for example (Kalechstein & Nowicki, 1997),
that the locus of control and academic achievement association in chil-
dren and adolescents is similar for both specic content and generalized
expectancy tests. is was also found to be true in the case of work gener-
alized locus of control expectancy measures (Spector, 1988; Ng, Sorensen,
& Eby, 2006), although the Ng etal. results of this review have been chal-
lenged by the authors of another study that focuses on work situation out-
comes (Wang, Bowling, & Eschleman,2010).
It seems important that authors of specic content expectancy tests
be aware of the need to evaluate the assumption that their tests incre-
mentally predict relevant outcomes better than generalized measures.
One example of a correct way to accomplish this psychometric task can
be found in the Perceived Control over Anxiety- Related Events (POARE)
scale (Rapee, Craske, Brown, & Barlow, 1996). When the scale was origi-
nally introduced, it oered no support for incremental validity. However,
some seven years later, Weems, Silverman, Rapee, and Pina (2003) com-
pleted a study in which they compared the abilities of the POARE and
a generalized expectancy scale (Children’s Nowicki- Strickland Internal
External scale). Although both were signicantly associated with relevant
anxiety- related outcome measures, the POARE associations were incre-
mentally higher.
One of the major goals of this chapter was to update the conclusions
we had reached in our 1982 chapter for the NSIE scales. e following
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three decades have seen a quadrupling of the 400 studies that were com-
pleted by 1982 (Nowicki, 2015). In the next section, we briey take each
of our earlier conclusions and recommendations and evaluate them in
light of the past 34years of research results. We begin with academic
NSIE and Academic Achievement
With regards to the locus of control/ academic achievement association,
we had concluded in 1982 that there was a relatively modest but signi-
cant relationship between internality and higher academic achievement
that was consistent with what was found in the groundbreaking Coleman
Report of 1966 (Coleman, Campbell, Hobson, McPartland, Mood,
Weineld, & York, 1966). We reasoned then, as we still do now, that this
relationship is expected because of the tendency of internality to be asso-
ciated with persistence and tenacity in gathering information that would
be of help to succeed academically.
Research since 1982 has conrmed the internality/ higher academic
performance association. Kalechstein and Nowicki (1997) completed a
review of the locus of control– achievement literature and found that both
generalized and content- specic expectancy measures were equally sig-
nicant in predicting academic success in children and adolescents. ere
also is evidence that internality is related to higher academic achievement
in college- aged students as well. Giord, Briceño- Perriott, and Mianzo
(2006) administered the Adult NSIE scale to 3,000 students entering the
University of Louisville and found that internality was signicantly as-
sociated with higher GPAs by the end of the rst year (as well as being
associated with a greater likelihood of staying in college). ey also found
that the internality– greater academic achievement association was main-
tained in students who stayed in college for their sophomoreyear.
Although most all of the studies done during the past 30 years were
cross- sectional in design, there is some evidence from at least one pro-
spective study that locus of control in childhood predicts academic
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Locus of Control of Reinforcement 161
attainment in adulthood. Using data on 1,326 men and 2,033 women
from the 1970 British Cohort Study (Flouri, 2006), it was found that inter-
nality as measured by an Anglicized Children’ Nowicki- Strickland scale
at age 10 predicted educational attainment as indicated by school degrees
obtained 16yearslater.
We “wondered” in 1982 whether internality “caused” higher academic
achievement. Although results from longitudinal studies would be most
helpful in determining causal direction, other ndings suggest that inter-
nality may cause higher academic achievement. Stipek (1980) examined
rst- grade children over a seven- month period and used cross- lagged
panel and path analyses to track the internality– academic achievement
association and found that internality appeared to “cause” higher aca-
demic achievement. Certainly, more research is needed to support this
possibility especially using methodological designs that could reveal
whether becoming more internal would translate into greater academic
NSIE and Abnormal Behavior
We concluded in our 1982 chapter that “the results obtained using the
NS scales lead us to conclude that externality is more like to be associ-
ated with behavioral disorders while internality seems to be associated
with positive social behaviors ” (Nowicki & Duke, 1982, p.34). Research
using the NSIE scales since then has provided convincing support for this
conclusion for an even wider collection of disordered behaviors than in
1982, ranging from eating disorders (Fouts & Vaughan, 2002)and reset-
ting (Gannon etal., 2013), to anticipatory anxiety (Li & Chung, 2009)and
something that did not exist in 1982:Internet overuse (Rotsztein,2003).
Although most of the studies are cross- sectional in design, results from
prospective studies support the possibility that externality earlier in life
is associated with negative behavioral outcomes later in life. ompson,
Sullivan, Lewis etal. (2011) found that the Anglicized Children’s NS scale
scores of 6,455 children at age 8 predicted a greater number of psychotic
acprof-9780190257040.indd 161 5/25/2016 9:16:34 PM
symptoms at age 12.9 as measured by a semi- structured clinical interview.
“e observed relationship between the measures of psychotic symptoms
and LOC was not substantially attenuated when adjusting for a number
of potential confounders including socio- demographic factors, family ad-
versity, IQ and previous psychiatric illness” (p.396).
Another large- scale prospective study associates externality at age 16
with the occurrence of greater depression at age 18 in 8,803 participants
from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)
based in Bristol, England (Culpin, Araya, Joinson etal. 2015). Structural
equation modeling revealed that 34% of the total estimated association
between early adversity and depression was explained by externality as
measured by the Anglicized NS children’s scale at age16.
It appears that generalized externality as measured by the NS scales
continues to show itself to be signicantly associated with a wide variety
of behavior and emotional diculties. Although there is not yet substan-
tiation for a clear causal role of LOC- R in disorders, results from two
large- scale prospective studies suggest that possibility.
NSIE and PhysicalHealth
ere was some suggestion from the research surveyed in our 1982 chap-
ter that externality was associated with a variety of unhealthy physical
behaviors. It is clear that this assumption has garnered an impressive
amount of support from research completed by those using the health
locus of control scales developed by the Wallstons (e.g., Wallston,
Wallston, & / DeVillis 1978). Although admittedly fewer studies have
used the NS measures, their results also support the assumption that
externality and unhealthy physical behaviors go together. Externality as
measured by the NSIE scales is associated with higher blood pressure and
less likelihood to comply with health instructions (Plawecki & Mallory,
1987); less eective ways of reacting to cancer diagnoses (ompson
& Collins 1995); a greater likelihood to resume smoking aer a myo-
cardial infarction (Lewengrab, 1984); greater vulnerability and risk for
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Locus of Control of Reinforcement 163
developing eating disorders (Leon, Fulkerson, Perry, & Cudeck, 1993);
engaging in less physical activity in those with and without diabetes
(Gregg, Narayan, Kriska, & Knowler, 1996); less likelihood to engage
in dental hygiene (Odman, Lange, & Bakdash, 1984); greater likelihood
of engaging in risky sexual behaviors leading to pregnancy (Gerrard &
Luus, 1995); less success in weight loss programs (Adolson, Andersson,
Elofsson, Rossner, & Unden, 2005); greater perceived levels of stress,
lower job satisfaction, and poorer general physical health (Kirkcaldy,
Shephard, & Furnham, 2002); reduced success in substance abuse reha-
bilitation (Tajalli & Kheiri, 2010); increased frequency of eating disor-
ders (Scoer, Paquet, & dArippe- Longueville, 2010); and an increased
likelihood taking up smoking (Chassin, Presson, Pitts etal.,2000).
In one of the few prospective studies using the NSIE scales to evalu-
ate physical health, 7,551 individuals participating in the British Cohort
Study (Gale, Batty, & Deary, 2008)were analyzed. It was found that ex-
ternality as measured by the Anglicized Children’s NS scale at age 10 was
associated with higher obesity and blood pressure at age30.
It appears that the initial evidence gathered in 1982 showing that external-
ity as measured by the NSIE scales was involved with the development and
treatment of physical diculties and disease has been broadly supported.
What still remains is to untangle the cause and eect of this association and
to see how generalized and specic expectancies and types of externality
relate to one another and to the outcomes they are predicting. Longitudinal
studies using a combination of generalized and specic scales may have the
potential to shed light on the way each is associated with physical health and
illness. Ane example of such a study is that of Infurna, Gerstorf, and Zarit
(2011) who reported levels of “perceived control” predict changes in health
over time in old age (but, interestingly, not in midlife).
NSIE and Antecedents ofand Attempts toChangeLOC- R
In light of the incredible range of outcomes that have been shown to be re-
lated to the NSIE and other measures of locus of control, perhaps the most
acprof-9780190257040.indd 163 5/25/2016 9:16:34 PM
important research areas to date are those regarding what we know about
how locus of control expectancies develop and change throughout the
life span and how to modify generalized expectancies that already exist.
ese goals have become even more important in light of the ndings of
Twenge, Zhang, and Im (2004). ey completed two meta- analyses, one
for 97 samples of college students who had taken Rotter’s LOC- R scale
(n=18,310) and one for children aged 9– 14 who had taken the Children’s
NSIE measure (n=6,554). ey found that “Americans increasingly be-
lieve their lives are controlled by outside forces rather than their own ef-
forts” (p.308). Over the 30- year span of the meta- analyses, the average
college student and child of 2002 had become signicantly more external
(.80 standard deviation).
Although the importance of clearly knowing the antecedents of
LOC- R cannot be denied, research focusing on it has attracted relatively
little attention. Using Rotter’s SLT as a starting point, Lefcourt (1976)
emphasized the family as the primary source of learning control expec-
tancies. We agreed and pointed out in 1982, and do so again now, that
children learn to be appropriately internal in families where parents
are warmer, more nurturing, more encouraging of independence, and
less critical. Such associations were also found by Carton and Nowicki
(1994) in their review of studies of antecedents of individual dierences
in LOC- R. In addition, they suggested that parental consistency and
children’s learning of contingencies between behavior and outcomes
were also signicantly involved.
Carton and Nowicki also noted the need for more longitudinal and
observational studies of children’s behaviors rather than relying on cross-
sectional studies using self- report or parent- report of parenting factors.
Unfortunately, not much has changed in this regard in the years since this
review, but there are exceptions. Carton and Carton (1998), in an obser-
vational study, for example, found that mothers of internally controlled
children displayed more positive touch and looked longer at their chil-
dren than did externally controlled peers, whereas internally controlled
children themselves smiled more oen and stayed on task better. In ad-
dition, in another observational study on a puzzle- solving task, Carton,
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Locus of Control of Reinforcement 165
Nowicki, and Balser (1996) found that mothers of internally controlled
boys were more likely to respond to their sons’ diculties with encour-
agement, but were less likely to attempt to take over the task than were
mothers of externals; in addition, mothers of internals were also rated as
warmer and less controlling. ere are studies that have used measures
of LOC- R other than the NSIE scales and have found similar associations
between parental behavior and attitudes and children’s control expectan-
cies (e.g., Rudolph, Kurlakowsky, & Conley, 2001). However, much more
needs to be known about the mechanisms of how parental warmth and/ or
nurturance get translated into children’s internality. As we recommended
in 1982, we do so again in 2016:we need more longitudinal and obser-
vational studies to explicate the antecedents of control expectancies not
only of parents, but of teachers, peers, and other important individuals in
the lives of children.
e lack of certainty regarding the identication of antecedents of con-
trol expectancies has hampered the development of programs to modify
LOC- R orientation. In 1982, a variety of attempts were made to change
control expectancies ranging from camp experiences to behavioral man-
agement, but few were theoretically based. Aer reviewing them, we con-
cluded that the most successful behavioral interventions are those that
are long term and broad- based. e best example at that time was a three-
year study completed by Roueche and Mink (1976) in which they used a
variety of experiences to “counsel for internality.
ere have been few attempts made to apply long- term, broad- based
intervention programs to change locus of control as measured by the NS
scales. One school- based example (Nowicki etal. 2004)found that using a
social learning– based intervention over a three- year period led to signi-
cant movement toward internality, an increase in academic achievement,
and a signicant drop in students leaving school. In another school- based
program (Trip, McMahon, Bora, & Chipea, 2010), a rational emotive and
behavioral dysfunction education program changed children’s orienta-
tions toward internality but not so that they were signicantly dierent
from the comparison groups. One additional study used control- specic
measures of internal, chance, and powerful others and focused on using
acprof-9780190257040.indd 165 5/25/2016 9:16:34 PM
cognitive training to modify locus of control in older adults (Wolinsky,
Vander Weg, Martin, & Willis, 2010). ey evaluated the eect of cogni-
tive training among 1,534 participants over a ve- year period and found
that “cognitive training that targets reasoning and speed of processing
can improve the cognitive- specic sense of personal control over one’s life
in older adults.” It is interesting that the program did not impact on the
chance or powerful others dimensions, but only on the personal control
measure that is similar to what would be found in the NSIE scales.
We have enjoyed this opportunity to look back over the past decades of re-
search and both update what our measures have found and oer our opin-
ions about where the future of LOC- R lies. We have found causes for both
encouragement and concern. We are encouraged by the depth and breadth
of interest in people’s beliefs in the degree to which they have control over
what happens to them. We are also heartened by the numbers of excellent
writings, both theoretical and empirical, that have moved our understand-
ing forward. Nonetheless, we are also concerned about the proliferation
of terms for what appears to be “plain old LOC- R,” by the untethering
of many of these terms and concepts from established bodies of theory
and by the absence of standardized measures which would allow for cross
comparisons and compilations of ndings in which we can feel condent.
One thing we are as sure of as we were back in 1982:if the future is any-
thing like the past 50years, it is going to be a very interesting journey!
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... 2). Since Rotter's introduction of the concept of LOC, it has become one of the most widely studied personality variables in psychology, with over 5,00,000 "hits" in Google Scholar (Nowicki and Duke, 2016). ...
... Thousands of studies have investigated the relation between LOC and outcomes across a wide variety of domains. Results generally have indicated that in the presence of a range of individual differences in locus of control, more internal, rather than more external, control expectancies appear to be related to more positive and healthier outcomes (see reviews by Lefcourt, 1966Lefcourt, , 1972Lefcourt, , 1976Lefcourt, , 1981Lefcourt, , 1983Lefcourt, , 1984Rotter, 1966Rotter, , 1975Rotter, , 1982Rotter et al., 1972;Phares, 1976;Nowicki and Duke, 2016). However, Rotter (1975) cautioned researchers not to assume internality always to be "good" and externality always to be "bad" in and of themselves, but to also consider the relation between LOC and the given psychological situation. ...
... However, as time passed, the very popularity of the LOC concept created problems. As Nowicki and Duke (2016) concluded, "What once was a clearly defined global generalized expectancy construct that functioned as a major component of Rotter's social learning theory (1954), (LOC) appears to have morphed into a complex array of concepts that sometimes appear to be only tangentially related to the original LOC-R concept introduced by Rotter" (p. 150). ...
Full-text available
The construct of locus of control of reinforcement has generated thousands of studies since its introduction as a psychological concept by Julian Rotter (1966) . Although evidence indicates its importance for a wide range of outcomes, comparatively little research has been directed toward identification of potential developmental antecedents of internal/external expectancies. A previous review of antecedent findings ( Carton and Nowicki, 1994 ) called for more research to be completed, particularly using observational and/or longitudinal methodologies. The current paper summarizes and evaluates antecedent research published in the intervening years since Carton and Nowicki’s review. Results largely were consistent with expectations based on Rotter’s social learning theory, although there is still a need for researchers to use observational, rather than self-report methodologies, and to include data from non-western cultures.
... The internal orientation (versus an external orientation) of LOC is defined as the degree to which persons expect that a reinforcement, or an outcome of their behavior, is contingent on their own behavior or personal characteristics versus the degree to which persons expect that the reinforcement or outcome is a function of chance, luck, or fate, is under the control of powerful others, or is simply unpredictable. (Rotter, 1990, p. 489) The relationship between a person's LOC orientation and his or her own human capital outcomes are long established (Nowicki, 2016;Nowicki & Duke, 2016). 1 Evidence of the relationship between the LOC orientation of parents and intergenerational human capital investments (i.e., the investment of caregivers in the development of their children), however, has only more recently started to emerge. ...
... Studies in developed countries also have shown that the positive relationship between LOC internality and better ECD outcomes can be explained by the higher level of intergenerational human capital investments of caregivers with a more internal orientation. More internally oriented caregivers are, in general, willing to invest more of their current resources in the developmental opportunities of their children in expectation of higher future returns on investment as compared with caregivers with a more external orientation Nowicki, 2016;Nowicki & Duke, 2016;Nowicki et al., 2018). ...
This study investigates the relationship between caregivers' internal or external parental locus of control (PLOC) orientation and child development outcomes. We surveyed 995 children under age 3 and their primary caregivers in a rural study site in Western China. The empirical results show that a more internal PLOC orientation is reflected in higher levels of intergenerational investment in a stimulating home environment and improved child development outcomes. Grandparent caregivers have, on average, a more external PLOC orientation than do parent caregivers, which is associated with reduced engagement in interactive caregiver-child activities. This study provides evidence that PLOC orientation plays an important role in intergenerational human capital investment and early child development in non-Western, low-to-middle income settings.
... Remarkably, our results suggest that maternal depressive symptoms during offspring's life is not a predictor of LoC orientation, opposed to what we have initially hypothesized. Although the antecedents of control expectancies in adolescence are not fully understood, previous studies have indicated that early experiences of adverse and uncontrollable circumstances may foster external LoC orientation characterized by diminished sense of perceived control over life events (Carton and Nowicki, 1994;Chorpita and Barlow, 1998;Nowicki and Duke, 2016). The exposure to parental depression and negative parenting styles were also associated to offspring external LoC (Chorpita and Barlow, 1998;Muris et al., 2004;Nowicki and Duke, 2016). ...
... Although the antecedents of control expectancies in adolescence are not fully understood, previous studies have indicated that early experiences of adverse and uncontrollable circumstances may foster external LoC orientation characterized by diminished sense of perceived control over life events (Carton and Nowicki, 1994;Chorpita and Barlow, 1998;Nowicki and Duke, 2016). The exposure to parental depression and negative parenting styles were also associated to offspring external LoC (Chorpita and Barlow, 1998;Muris et al., 2004;Nowicki and Duke, 2016). Recent studies showed the mediating and moderating role that LoC orientation may exert between stress life events and unfavourable psychological outcomes (Culpin et al., 2015;Deardorff et al., 2003;Hunter et al., 2010;Kliewer and Sandier, 1992;Muris et al., 2004). ...
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Background: Maternal depression is associated with impairments in child behavioural and emotional development, although the effect of exposure to maternal depression until adolescence is underexplored in most studies. This longitudinal study examined the association between maternal depressive symptoms trajectories and offspring socioemotional competences at age 11. Methods: We included 3,437 11-year-old adolescents from the 2004 Pelotas Birth Cohort Study. Maternal depressive symptoms were assessed during the follow-up waves. Adolescent socioemotional competences were peer relationship problems and prosocial behaviour, both assessed by Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), and Locus of Control (LoC), assessed by Nowick-Strickland Internal-External Scale. We used multivariate linear and logistic regression models to examine the effects of maternal depression trajectories on offspring's socioemotional competences, adjusting for potential confounding variables. Results: We identified five trajectories of maternal depressive symptoms: a "low" trajectory (32.6%), a "moderate low" (42.2%), a "increasing" (11.1%), a "decreasing" (9.2%), and a "high-chronic" trajectory (4.9%). Adolescents whose mothers had persistent depressive symptoms, either intermediate or high, had greater levels of peer relationship problems and lower levels of prosocial behaviour than those whose mothers had low depressive symptoms. These differences were not explained by socioeconomic, maternal, and child characteristics. Maternal depressive symptoms during offspring's life was not a predictor of LoC orientation. Limitations: Nearly 20% of original cohort were not included in the analysis due to missing data. Adolescent's socioemotional competences were ascertained by maternal report. Conclusion: Our study extended the evidences of the negative impact of severe and recurrent maternal depression on offspring's socioemotional competences until early adolescence.
... Σε ότι αφορά τις πεποιθήσεις τους σχετικά με το ποιος έχει γενικά τον έλεγχο (Locus of Control) , αναφερόμαστε στη διάκριση ανάμεσα σε Εσωτερική και Εξωτερική έδρα ελέγχου (Nowicki & Duke, 2016). Μπορούμε να αναγνωρίσουμε δύο άκρα στην πεποίθηση των προσωπικοτήτων, τους εσωτερικούς και τους εξωτερικούς τύπους. ...
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Σκοπός της παρούσας μελέτης είναι η εξέταση μιας νέας δυναμικά αναδυόμενης μορφής εργασίας, που χαρακτηρίζεται ως “τηλεργασία”. Η γενική στάση τόσο των εργαζομένων, όσο και εργοδοτών ως προς την τηλεργασία είναι θετική και η πρόβλεψή τους για το μέλλον είναι ότι θα συνεχίσει να έχει θετική δυναμική και να επεκταθεί ακόμη περισσότερο. Βασικά πλεονεκτήματα της τηλεργασίας, σύμφωνα με τα ευρήματα της έρευνας, είναι οι δυνατότητες αντιστοίχισης επαγγελματικών προσόντων και επαγγελματικών ευκαιριών, η ευελιξία στους όρους απασχόλησης, η εξοικονόμηση χρόνου από τυχόν μετακινήσεις προς την εργασία, καθώς και η πιθανή επίτευξη καλύτερων αμοιβών για υψηλών προσόντων εργασιακές δραστηριότητες. Σημαίνοντα ρόλο διαφάνηκε να έχει η έννοια της εμπιστοσύνης και το σταδιακό χτίσιμό της σε ανώτερα επίπεδα προκειμένου να υπάρχει αρμονική συνεργασία στο περιβάλλον της τηλεργασίας. Στα βασικά μειονεκτήματα περιλαμβάνονται η ανάγκη για υπευθυνότητα και αυτοπειθαρχία στην εργασία από τους εργαζομένους και η δυσκολία διαχείρισης της αποτελεσματικότητας του έργου από τους εργοδότες, λόγω και προσκόλλησης σε τρόπους διοίκησης που είναι σε ευθυγράμμιση ακόμα με το παραδοσιακό κυρίαρχο μοντέλο της εργασίας μέσω φυσικής παρουσίας. Λέξεις Κλειδιά: Τηλεργασία, Εναλλακτική Καριέρα, Επαγγελματική Συμβουλευτική
... Students with low locus of control do not see effort as related to achievement. [20], control of internal versus external refers to the level of someone expectation which reinforcement or an outcome of their behavior. ...
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The aims of this study are to investigate: (1) if CTL is more effective than grammar-translation method to teach reading comprehension; (2) if the students having high locus of control have better reading mastery than those having low locus of control; and (3) if interaction between methods used and students’ locus of control is availavle. The research was conducted at University of Muhammadiyah Kalimantan Timur. The samples were from two classes, cluster random sampling technique was used. Each class was divided into two groups (the students who have high and low locus of control) in experiment and control class. The techniques used to collect the data were questionnaire and reading comprehension test. The two instruments were tried out to get valid and reliable items. The data were analyzed by using multifactor analysis of ANOVA 2x2 and Tuckey test. The research findings: (1) CTL is more effective than GTM to teach reading comprehension, the result from ANOVA shows that Fo is higher than Ft or Fo > Ft; (2) the reading comprehension of the students who have high locus of control is better than that of those who have low locus of control, the result from ANOVA shows that Fo is higher than Ft or F o > Ft.; and (3) there is an interaction between teaching methods and Locus of control for teaching reading. It’s concluded that teaching methods had a strong influence on students’ reading comprehension.
... Moreover, results also support the general notion that cognitions (i.e. beliefs and expectations) about the effect of one's own healthrelated behavior may play a causal role in the maintenance and change of health behaviors [68]. ...
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Purpose: To explore the association between delivery-specific health-related control beliefs and preferred ways of delivery in nulliparous Hungarian women. Moreover, since data on delivery-specific control beliefs and delivery-related preferences of non-pregnant nulliparous women is lacking, the present study seeks to provide descriptive information in this regard as well. Methods: Altogether, 984 Hungarian nulliparous women (26.45 ±5.42 years; 660 / 77.2% non-pregnant and 224 / 22.8% pregnant) were included in the present study. The online assessment included preferences regarding delivery setting (i.e., spontaneous vaginal birth in hospital, planned caesarean birth, and home birth) as well as measures of delivery-specific (internal-, health care professionals-, and chance-related) health control beliefs, fear of childbirth, and self-esteem. Results: Health care professionals-related control beliefs were associated with a stronger preference for spontaneous vaginal birth in hospital (OR=1.87, 95% CI: 1.56-2.23) and planned caesarean birth (OR=1.96, 95% CI: 1.60-2.40), alongside a lower preference for home birth (OR=0.31, 95% CI: 0.25-0.39). In contrast, internal delivery-specific control beliefs predicted lower preference for planned caesarean (OR=0.66, 95% CI: 0.55-0.78) and a stronger preference for home birth (OR=1.63, 95% CI: 1.33-2.00). A general preference index toward medicalized ways of delivery was negatively associated with internal and positively with health care professionals- and chance-related control beliefs (betas .173, .074 and .445, respectively). Conclusions: Delivery-related control beliefs are important psychological characteristics when predicting preferences for the ways of delivery. Understanding delivery-specific control beliefs may be an important factor in supporting women on their way to giving a mentally and physically healthy birth.
In the present study the psychometric characteristics of three questionnaires for the measurement of locus of control (performed in an online format) were studied. The Spearman–Brown coefficient for the J. Rotter questionnaire was 0.74 (104 respondents), for the LSC scales of E. F. Bazhin—from 0.35 to 0.83 (524 respondents), and for the H. Levenson scales—from 0.67 to 0.81 (134 respondents). The study of the relationship between the scales and internal structure of the items of multidimensional questionnaires revealed a number of issues. Factor analysis did not allow us to unambiguously confirm the theoretically postulated structure of the H. Levenson IPC and E. F. Bazhin questionnaires. While analyzing the factors, an effect related to the specifics of the response to the items formulated in the ‘external’ and ‘internal’ forms was observed. The study of correlations for the scale of general internality with subjective well-being, various personal motivations, and time perspective showed the expected results.
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This chapter offers an interpersonal model of relationship process that clarifies the role non-verbal communication has in facilitating or hindering the development of closeness. Sternberg’s story relationship perspective is a jumping-off place for presenting Nowicki and Duke’s four-phase relationship model. We remind the reader what aspects of non-verbal language cause it to be so important in determining our success not only at the choice and beginning, but especially at the deepening and ending of relationships. We introduce the idea that relationships are dynamic entities that continuously cycle through beginnings and endings as well as the circumplex model to identify what it is we seek from others to feel close and why relationship endings are so important for the success of future attempts at close relationships.
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It is really difficult to live in a society in which the human contact is decreasing each day, and where stressful situations become unavoidable. In order to be healthy and have a healthy lifestyle, the coping style plays a huge role. Witnessing this situation every day, the aim of this research is to investigate the connection among psychosomatic tendencies, different coping styles and locus of control in young adults, aged from 24 to 34 years, in the Republic of North Macedonia. The evaluated sample consists of 187 (M=47; F=140) participants, randomly selected, who accepted to be the part of the research by filling in the on-line questionnaires, delivered through Google forms. The short demographic questionnaire and three psychological instruments were used: Cybernetic Battery of Conjunctive tests KON-6, CISS-21 (Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations), and Internal-External Locus of Control Scale (I-E). Spearman’s correlation was used in order to check and approve the connectedness among psychosomatic tendencies, coping styles and locus of control. The obtained results confirm that there is a significant correlation among tendencies towards psychosomatic reaction, coping styles and locus of control among young adults in the Republic of North Macedonia.
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Considering the parenting concept can be useful to obtain enough information in the family area. The family determines as the building block of society, and marriage assumed as its foundation. Divorce likewise has pervasive weakening influence on children and on all the major institutions of the social order such as family, school, and government. Though, this substance is growing weaker as fewer adults marry, more adults divorce, and choose single parenthood. Really, one of the most significant and intimate associations among individuals is between parent and child. The parent-child bond is unique both in its biological basics and in its psychological meanings. Intended for a child, it's a crucial relationship that safeguards
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The main objective of this study was to assess the efficiency of a rational emotive and behavioral program for children concerning the reduction of irrational beliefs, inferential beliefs, dysfunctional emotions and behaviors. The second objective was to investigate the mediation effect of changes in irrational beliefs on inferences, emotions and behaviors modification. Results showed that rational emotive behavioral education was efficient in decreasing irrational beliefs in children, the main effect ranging from low to high. Significant differences were not obtained for locus of control internalization. Academic behaviors were modified moderately by the intervention. The results support the mediation effect of irrational beliefs in the modification of behavioral and emotional consequences.
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Previous studies have linked exposure to early socioeconomic adversity to depression, but the mechanisms of this association are not well understood. Locus of control (LoC), an individual's control-related beliefs, has been implicated as a possible mechanism, however, longitudinal evidence to support this is lacking. The study sample comprised 8803 participants from a UK cohort, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Indicators of early socioeconomic adversity were collected from the antenatal period to 5 years and modelled as a latent factor. Depression was assessed using the Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised (CIS-R) at 18 years. LoC was assessed with the Nowicki-Strickland Internal-External (CNSIE) scale at 16 years. Using structural equation modelling, we found that 34% of the total estimated association between early socioeconomic adversity and depression at 18 years was explained by external LoC at 16 years. There was weak evidence of a direct pathway from early socioeconomic adversity to depression after accounting for the indirect effect via external locus of control. Socioeconomic adversity was associated with more external LoC, which, in turn, was associated with depression. Attrition may have led to an underestimation of the direct and indirect effect sizes in the complete case analysis. Results suggest that external LoC in adolescence is one of the factors mediating the link between early adversity and depression at 18 years. Cognitive interventions that seek to modify maladaptive control beliefs in adolescence may be effective in reducing risk of depression following early life adversity. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
In this article the construct of generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement is used as a model to present a brief on the importance of broad theory and training in theory construction and evaluation in psychology. Specifically, the extraordinary heuristic value of this construct is attributed to four characteristics: the nature of the definition, the careful imbedding of the construct in a theoretical context, the use of a broad behavior theory in construction of a measure of individual differences, and the programmatic nature of the original research as well as the format of the early publications. Reevaluation of the characteristic criteria for publication of research studies and for the evaluation of promotion or advancement for psychologists involved in research activities is also discussed.
A meta-analytic review of the relationship between control expectancies and academic achievement was conducted for studies published between 1983 and 1994. The purpose of this investigation was to replicate the results from a meta-analysis completed in 1983 and to use Rotter's (1954) social learning theory to generate predictions regarding the relations between generalized and specific control expectancies and academic achievement. Consistent with the results of Findley and Cooper's (1983) analysis, both generalized and specific control expectancies were related to academic achievement, but in no instance did specific control expectancies predict academic achievement better than generalized control expectancies. The control expectancy-academic achievement relation was not moderated by variables such as gender or type of dependent measure. Age moderated the relationship so that it was significant and similar for elementary- and college-aged individuals but significantly greater for secondary school-aged children. The implications of these findings with regard to the validity of assumptions made by Rotter are discussed.