External control and attitudes towards mental illness


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The present study examines the relationship between "locus of control and attitudes towards mental illness in first and second year psychology students'. The study was conducted to see if students with an internal control will have a more negative attitude towards mental illness than students with an external control. A total of 47 participants were administered and completed the Opinions about Mental illness scale, which was used to measure their attitudes towards mental illness and Rotter's I-E scale used to measure Locus of Control. Also participants filled in a brief demographic questionnaire of age, sex, year of study, experience with mental illness and knowing someone with mental illness. The questionnaires were self administered. No significant differences were found, and the five regressions analysis did not find locus of control to be a significant predictor of attitudes toward mental illness. However, there were minimal effects of demographic factors on authoritarianism, benevolence, and social restrictiveness. This area of research needs to be explored further, particularly looking at the determinants that can shape personality.


Rotter provides a foundation for the cognitive theories of the last twenty years in his social learning theory, a social-personality theory that describes students in terms of their tendencies to attribute success or failure to internal or external factors. One area of research that developed from Rotter's theory concerns the locus of control in individuals. The concept of locus of control, although relatively new (Rotter, 1954), has received considerable attention in the study of psychological differences (Lefcourt, 1976; Phares, 1976). Rotter (1966) developed his locus of control (LOC) based on the premise that individuals perform tasks differently contingent upon their belief in the likelihood of attaining their desired goal or purpose. LOC is a learned perception that may vary from one context or environment to another. Some people feel personally responsible for the things that happen to them. These people are labelled internals. Others feel that their outcomes in life are determined by forces beyond their control. These people are labeled externals (Findley & Cooper, 1983). The locus of control in people affects their perception of rewards they receive as controlled by internal factors, such as their personal ability, effort, or skill, or as controlled by external factors, such as chance, luck, or other people. Most people fall between these two extremes, forming a continuous distribution of locus of control beliefs. Locus of control is thought to be a relatively enduring dispositional characteristic, although certainly modifiable through experience (Findley & Cooper, 1983).

A persons perception of their environments as skill or chance determined, influence positive or negative shifts of achievement expectancy in themselves following success and failure (Rotter, 1966). In addition, there are other characteristics that emerge as a result of individuals' perceptions of their environments as personally or externally controlled (Rotter 1966). An individual's belief about locus of control has been frequently studied as an antecedent to important social behaviours and psychological states. Locus of control is said to be one of the main determining factors of personality in individuals and it has been argued that there is link between an individual's locus of control and attitudes towards mental illness (Morrison et al 1994). Locus of control also referred to as personal control beliefs and personal mastery beliefs reflect individuals' beliefs regarding the extent to which they are able to control or influence outcomes.

Research on student's opinions about mental illness shows it has an impact on curriculum development, work recruitment, and specialty choices in mental health related fields (Werrbach and Depoy, 1993). One study looked at undergraduate nursing student's attitudes towards mental health and the findings demonstrated significant relationships between students' attitudes, beliefs, characteristics and desire to pursue a career in psychiatric mental health nursing. Another study by Eker, (1989), examined the recognition of mental illness in different types of disorders, differences in social distance toward them, differences in expected emotional and physical burden, and expected negative influence on one's mental health from association with the mentally ill. Results showed that the participants had the tendency to perceive a student described as paranoid schizophrenic with the highest mental illness, the greatest social distance, and the most pronounced expectation of physical and emotional burden and expectation of negative influence on one's health. Further research by Werrbach and DePoy (1993) investigated perceptions held by students about working with persons with serious mental illness and the correlation between student's future job satisfaction needs and attributes of working in the community mental health field. Students indicated significantly more comfort in advocating for community services for psychiatric clients, but were significantly less satisfied with the challenge of working with clients who did not easily show signs of improvement. Group differences related to previous mental health experience indicated that the experienced group reported significantly less concern about handling psychiatric emergencies and working with clients who exhibit strange behaviours.

Further research by Eker (1988) compared first year psychology, science, and medical

students to see whether psychology students had more favourable attitudes toward mental

patients. Psychology and medical students were shown to have attitudes that were more

similar to each other than to science students. The presence of such tendencies at the

beginning of university education seem to support the idea that those with certain

characteristics end up working in psychology and medicine. Napoletano (1981) has indicated

that five factors influence attitudes about mental illness: classroom instruction, age, and

contact with mental patients, fear reduction, and length of practice in mental health. Another

study found that students with an internal locus of control showed better adjustment to college

in terms of academic achievement and social adjustment (Njus & Brockway, 1999).

Personal control

A wide variety of theorists have emphasized the importance of perceptions of personal control, and suggested that the desire to control the world around us is a fundamental characteristic of human beings (Schultz et al, 1994). Reflecting on these varied theoretical perspectives the literature exhibits varying conceptualizations of "perceived control". Lefcourt (1976) defined perceived locus of control as follows: " a generalised expectancy for internal as opposed to external control of reinforcements". Control is a concept that plays an important role in several psychological theories.  It is central to Seligman's (1975) probability analysis of control, Weiner's (1986) attributional analysis of motivation and emotion, and it is the key concept in Bandura's (1977) self-efficacy theory, theories of learned helplessness, and Rotter's (1954) social learning theory.

Seligman (1975) has defined the concept of control most explicitly.  He defines an event as controllable when a person's voluntary responses have an impact on the consequences of that event.  An event is considered to be uncontrollable when no voluntary response has an impact on the event. However, Wortman and Brehm (1975) argue that the initial response to uncontrollable outcomes is an increase in motivation and performance in order to attempt to regain control. Wortman and Brehm theorize that when perceived uncontrollable experiences continue to arise the state of helplessness is likely to emerge. Also, it can be argued that lack of control can lead to different psychological states. Weiner's work was of considerable importance in the development of Seligman's cognitive model of depression (Learned Helplessness).


In educational literature Weiner provides a theory of attribution. Weiner's attribution theory (1986) is mainly about achievement and draws on many well theories including sociallearning (Rotter and Heider's) distinction between external and internal). According to Weiner, the most important factors affecting attributions are ability, effort, task difficulty, and luck. Attributions are classified along three causal dimensions; locus of control, stability, and controllability. When one succeeds, one attributes successes internally ("my own skill").When a rival succeeds, one tends to credit external (e.g. luck). When one fails or makes mistakes, we will more likely use external attribution, attributing causes to situational factors rather than blaming ourselves. When others fail or make mistakes, interal attribution is often used, saying it is due to their internal personality factors. According to Weiner attribution is a three stage process; behaviour is observed, behaviour is determined to be deliberate, and behaviour is attributed to internal or external causes. Kelly proposed that individuals differed in the content of their constructs, the degree to which their constructs were open to disconfirmation, and the degree to which information might be assimilated to a construct. Individuals also differed in the complexity and differentiation of their personal constructs. In relation to students it is a systematic achievement motivation theory which begins with assumption that students attribute their successes and failures to internal or external causes. Those who attribute their successes and failures to internal causes have a greater degree of achievement motivation than those to attribute their successes to external causes (Weiner, 1979).

Self efficacy

The concept of self-efficacy lies at the centre of psychologist Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory (1986). Self-efficacy is "the belief in one's capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations" (1995, p. 2). In other words, self-efficacy is a person's belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation. Whether or not they will undertake a particular activity, attempt to do a particular task, or strive to meet a particular goal depends on whether or not they believe we will be efficacious in performing those actions.  Bandura described these beliefs as determinants of how people think, behave, and feel (Bandura, 1994).Bandura's theory emphasizes the role of observational learning, social experience, and reciprocal determinism in the development of personality. According to Bandura, a person's attitudes, abilities, and cognitive skills comprise what is known as the self-system. It can be said that locus of control has a significant impact on self-efficacy and how individuals' expectations shape the goals they set for themselves. Some critics argue that self-efficacy is a cause of behaviour, not merely a predictor as Bandura argues (Bandura, 1986).

Locus of control

The most well known concept of control is "locus of control" which is derived from Rotter's social learning theory of personality (Rotter, 1966), and which focuses on "beliefs that individuals hold regarding relationships between actions and outcomes" (Lefcourt, 1991). The locus of control construct is a personality construct that refers to an individual's perception of events and distinguishes between internals and externals. According to Rotter, a person's locus of control (internal vs. external) affects the way that person will perceive most situations and influences behaviour in predictable ways. In short, internal locus of control refers to the perception of positive or negative events as being a consequence of one's own actions and thereby under one's own personal control. In contrast, external locus of control refers to the perception of negative and positive events as being unrelated to one's behaviour in certain situations and thereby beyond personal control. It is argued that people with a strong internal locus of control see themselves as being in control of their life. This person will seek out information and is more likely to have good study habits and a positive academic attitude, and tends to be highly motivated. Those with strong external locus of control perceive their destiny as controlled by events or people outside of their control and they tend to blame others and are usually not highly motivated. They believe that powerful others, fate, or chance primarily determine events (Marsh & Weary, 1995). People with external locus of control are also more likely to experience anxiety since they believe that they are not in control of their lives.

Rotter (1966) cautioned that internality and externality represent two ends of a continuum, not an either/or typology. In short, locus of control concept has significant effect on our lives, individuals have a sense of personal responsibility for their thoughts and actions and this control is an aid to their psychological well being. To determine which behaviour has the strongest potential for occurrence , one must consider expectancy, reinforcement value and psychological situation. Locus of control concept has generated much research in psychology in a variety of areas including health and educational. With all the studies done in this area, researching findings have shown the following characteristics to be more typical of internals.

Internal control

The aim of this study is to examine if there is a relationship between internal-external control and attitudes towards mental illness in first and second year undergraduate psychology students'. Specifically, it is hypothesized that students who have a more internal locus of control will have a more negative attitude towards mental illness, than students with an external locus of control. This study was built on a review of literature in the fields of psychology, education, labour, sociology and health.

Studies in these areas show that internals and externals differ in numerous ways, particularly in terms of their cognitive activity and environmental mastery. There is a variety of scientific literature on locus of control, and this study will be specifically looking at students with internal locus of control. Researchers have provided evidence that suggests that there is a positive relationship between internal locus of control and persistence (Strain, 1993). Internal locus of control and achievement are positively related (Lewin & Stephens, 1994). Because they are more perceptive of their situations, internals seem to exert more control over their lives in part by their knowledge of their environments (Lefcourt, 1976). Internals more readily acquire and utilize information that is relevant to their goal situation even when it seemingly is not relevant (Phares, 1976). Hesrch and Schiebe (1967) found that internals describe themselves as more active, striving, achieving, powerful, independent and effective (as cited in Phares, 1976). Another study found more college students have been found to exhibit an internal rather than an external orientation (Rotter, 1966). Also, people high in internal locus of control cope better with psychological distress, experience less anxiety, and depression and are less likely to commit suicide (as cited on Phares, 1967). An internal LOC orientation is more conducive to high achievement, social adjustment and independent functioning but has been positively correlated with resistance to submit to authority and reduced sympathy for others (Spector, 1983)

One specific study of Multidimensional Locus of Control and attitudes towards mental illness Morrison, et al looked at 92 university students ranging in age from 18-60 years. Attitudes were assesses by the Opinions about mental illness scale and locus of control was assessed using Levenson's scale. It was found that locus of control is related to specific attitudes towards mental illness (Morrison, DeMan, Drumheller, 1984.


(a). Design

This was a quantitative, between subjects design study, to determine the relationship between internal-external control and attitudes towards mental illness. The independent variable was locus of control. The two levels of this independent variable were internal control and external control. The dependent variable was attitudes, which had five dependent variable factors; authoritarianism; stresses the difference and inferiority of mental patients from normal people, benevolence; paternalistic view towards patients, mental hygiene ideology; patients are people, social restrictiveness; patients and ex patients are dangerous to society and should be restricted, interpersonal ideology; mental illness is due to interpersonal experiences. As an estimate of one aspect of personality, the locus of control scale was utilized. As an estimate of attitudes towards mental illness, the opinions about mental illness scale (Cohen and struening, 1962) was used.

(b). Participants

A total of forty-seven participants were obtained from volunteer Aston University undergraduate psychology students. Students signed up online through the university research participation scheme. Participants consisted of 42 females and 5 males. Mean age for the sample was 20.28 years (SD= 4.744; range 18-46 years). The majority were White British (n=17; 8 were Indian; 5 Black British, 4 Asian and 12 were other races. The sample consisted of twenty eight second year students and 19 first year students.

(c). Materials


All 47 students were administered both questionnaires and demographic form

(1). Rotters I-E scale. This is a 29 item scale used to assess an individual's locus of control.

In 1966, Rotter published a monograph entitled Generalized Expectancies for Internal Versus External Control of Reinforcement, where he explored people's expectancies as to whether they can influence the reinforcements they receive. At one extreme are people who believe that reinforcements are due to fate or luck. They would be said to have an external locus of control. At the other extreme are those who believe that reinforcements are a function of one's behaviour. They have an internal locus of control. Rotter also created the Internal-External Locus of Control Scale to measure individual differences in this characteristic. The scale has been widely used, and research on I-E flourished in the 1970s. This dimension of internal versus external locus of control has come to be seen as a relatively stable dimension of personality. The scale continues to be widely used to assess perceived control in health related research (Strickland, 1978).

(2). Opinions about mental illness scale (OMI).

Prejudicial attitudes about mental illness were assessed using the Opinions about mental illness questionnaire (OMI; Struening & Cohen, 1963). In 1962, Cohen and Struening identified and developed measures for the major dimensions underlying opinions about severe mental illness among hospital personnel. The Opinions about mental illness scale (OMI) was developed in a study of the attitudes of hospital personnel towards mental illness. It was used to identify opinions about the cause, treatment, and prognosis of mental illness. They also explored the construct validity of the measures by relating them to the respondent's occupation, age, and sex. Results showed that five salient opinion-attitude factors were identified. These factors include authoritarianism, benevolence, mental hygiene idealogy, social restrictiveness, and interpersonal etiology. The instrument contains 51 items on which participants were asked to indicate his/her opinion by marking a 5 point likert scale, ranging from strongly disagree (0) to strongly agree (5).

Through factor analysis Cohen and Struening discovered five attitude factors to which each item contributes specifically. A high score indicates positive attitude of the ideas represented by the corresponding factor. The five factors include:

Factor A = Authoritarianism: This factor consists of 11 items that represent opinions of the mentally ill as a class of people inferior to the normal population. This is defined in terms of the distinguishing characteristics of the mentally ill. . It includes an implicit suggestion of the need for an authoritarian attitude toward the mentally ill. High scores on this factor indicate a belief that the mentally ill are inferior to normal individuals.

Factor B = Benevolence: This factor is made up of 14 items that represent attitudes that are encouraging of patients but still acknowledge some fear of the mentally ill.

Factor C = Mental Hygiene Etiology: This factor consists of 9 items representing a professional view of treatment that views mental health patients as normal people and resists the stigma associated with mental illness. High scores on this factor indicate a positive regard for serious mental illness.

Factor D = Social Restrictiveness: This factor consists of 10 items that regard the mentally ill as a danger to society and suggests they should be restricted both during and after hospitalization.

Factor E = Interpersonal Etiology: This factor is composed of 7 items that suggest the belief that mental illness results from bad interpersonal experiences such as the lack of parental love and attention. (Cohen and Struening) These five factors been determined to be valid and reliable by Cohen and Struening (1963) who also found that the measure of internal consistency (K-R-20 reliability coefficient) for the OMI factors ranged from .21 to .89 (Cohen and Strueniing,1963). This instrument was administered to all 47 participants.

(3). Demographic form; age, sex, year of study, experience with mental illness, knowing someone who has mental illness.


The University ethics board approved this study, and all guidelines were followed for ethical guideline for research with human participants. An outline of the research and available times was then placed online, on the psychology research participation system where the research was managed and students were able to sign up. Participants were required to be first or second year psychology students only. Access to the study was obtained through Aston university psychology research participant scheme, students were able to sign up in allotted 20 minute slots provided if they were interested in taking part and an automatic email sent of a sign up. Each participant was taken to a single psychology lab at the allotted time, seated, scripted a brief introduction and then given a informed consent form, which outlined the focus of the study, assurance of anonymity, privacy and confidentiality, and their right not to answer a question or withdraw their data at anytime without penalty. No participant refused to participate. After the consent form was signed, it was collected and then participants were given two questionnaires, Rotter (1966) I-E scale and Cohen and Struening. (1962) OMI scale and a brief demographic questionnaire. Questionnaires were self administered. After the questionnaires were filled in, questionnaires were collected and participants debriefed, thanked, dismissed and awarded 4 credits for participation. Each participant was tested once.

Each questionnaire was then scored separately by hand for each participant. Both the I-E scale and the OMI scale were scored using a scoring formula (appendix E). The data was analysed using SPSS 16. Low scores of 10 or less indicated internal control. Higher scores of 14 or higher indicated an external preference. Scores ranged from 1 to 23.


The results were calculated using regression analysis to try to get a causal understanding of the relationship between the independent variables (internal and external control) and the dependent variables (authoritarianism, benevolence, mental ideology, social restrictiveness, interpersonal etiology). The items of the attitudes questionnaire were analyzed one by one by hand, then inputted in SPSS to find out the effect of locus of control on attitudes toward mental illness. The mean locus of control score for the 47 participants was 12.32, SD 3.427 (see graph 1). The information gathered on the demographic form is as shown (Appendix A). The sample consisted of twenty eight second year students and 19 first year students. There were forty- two females and five males (see graph 5). Twenty seven participants knew someone treated for mental illness, and twenty students did not know anyone diagnosed with mental illness (see graph 2). Two students were currently working with mental illness, one had some past experience of working with mental illness and forty-four students had no experience of working with mental illness (see in graph 3). The majority were White British (n=17); Indian (n=8); Black British (n=5), Asian; (n=4) and (n=12) were other races (see graph 4). . Table 1 summarizes demographics for participants whose data were analysed in this study.

Table 1. Demographics


Std. Deviation





































The five regressions tested the hypothesis. The variable "locus of control scores" was included in each of the five regressions and serves to test the hypothesis of the effect of locus of control on attitudes toward mental illness. The results were as follows; authoritarianism (table. 2) shows the r square which is .292. Our predictor variable showed only 29 per cent of the variance in the criterion variable. The f-value is 1.312 and the confidence value is .259, which is not significant. However, being older was associated with lower scores on authoritarianism. Specifically, with each additional year of age, scores on authoritarianism were predicted to decrease by .522 points. Knowing someone who was treated for a mental illness was associated with lower scores on authoritarianism. . Specifically, individuals who knew someone who was treated for a mental illness had scores on authoritarianism that were, on average, 5.068 points lower than those who did not know any individuals treated for mental illness

Benevolence (table 3) shows the r square which is .272. In this case, the predictor variable showed only 27 per cent of the variance in the criterion variable. The f-value is 1.186 and the confidence value is .331, which is not significant. However the results showed that having experience with someone who has a mental illness was associated with higher scores on benevolence. Specifically, those who had experience with an individual with a mental illness had scores on benevolence that were, on average, 5.888 points higher as compared with those who had no experience with these individuals.

Mental Hygiene Ideology (table 4) shows the r square which is .153. The predictor variable showed only 15 per cent of the variance in the criterion variable. The f-value is .574 and the confidence value is .836, which is not significant. Overall, no effect was seen in mental hygiene ideology

Social Restrictiveness (table 5) shows the r square which is .177. In this case, the predictor variable showed only 18 per cent of the variance in the criterion variable. The f-value is .682 and the confidence value is .745, which is not significant. However, scores on social restrictiveness were found to vary significantly based on gender Specifically, males were found to have scores on social restrictiveness that were, on average, 8.097 points higher as compared with females.

Interpersonal etiology (table 6) shows the r square which is .236. The predictor variable showed only 24 per cent of the variance in the criterion variable. The f value is .982 and the confidence value is .480, which is not significant. No effect was seen in interpersonal etiolgy.

Overall based on the study results, locus of control was not found to be significant in any of the five regression analyses, which means that the hypothesis was not supported here. The five regressions did not find locus of control to be a significant predictor of attitudes toward mental illness

A further analysis was done using an independent t-test on 27 students, thirteen with an internal control and 14 with an external control to test whether there was a difference between groups on the five attitude factors. The mean difference between groups on authoritarianism was (4.3), benevolence (1.33), mental hygiene ideology (1.09), social restrictiveness (4.07) and interpersonal etiology (0.98) which are small effect sizes. The variances between students with internal scores and external scores were roughly equal, and not significantly different on the five attitude factors, levene's test indicated that p>0.001 (table 7). The external group showed difference of 4.3 on authoritarianism to the internal control group. However, the difference in the means of the five attitude factors was not shown to be significantly different between the group as shown in table 7. An anova analysis was then done to see if their were any differences in the means in the internal, external and mixed group. The results show that there were differences in the means of the groups. The external students means were higher on authoritarianism, social restrictiveness and interpersonal etiology (table8).


Although many studies have shown that an individual's belief about locus of control has an important influence on his/her attitudes and behaviours, in this study it was seen that locus of control had no or minimal effect on attitudes towards mental illness. This study was not successful in showing that students with an internal locus of control have a more negative attitude towards mental illness than students with an external control. However, the results showed minimal effects of demographic factors on authoritarianism, benevolence and social restrictiveness.

Internal-external locus of control is a widely studied personality variable. Numerous researchers have investigated the relationship between the perception of locus of control reinforcement and different aspects of personality, including perceived stress, motivation, to attain goals, personal adjustment, problem solving strategies and hostility. Many studies have shown that locus of control affects us in different areas of our lives (Lefcourt, 1976). However, there still lacks information in the area of whether locus of control in students affects their attitudes towards mental illness. Therefore, this research paper looked specifically at that area. Morrison et al study on multidimensional locus of control and attitudes towards mental illness found that locus of control is related to specific attitudes toward mental illness, and the correlational patterns is subject to gender differences (Morrison, Deman, & Drumheller, 1994)

In educational studies locus of control as been found to be a significant factor in achievement motivation. Studies in psychology have provided evidence of locus of control as a changeable variable and internal locus of control as a variable which can be affected by modelling.

Studies in health and education have implicated internal control in the decision making process. Studies have looked on how locus of control affects us in different areas of our lives and in addition a number of studies have associated internal locus of control beliefs with behaviours that affect the probability of attaining success (Findley &Cooper, 1983). Greater achievement and internality has been studied in many settings, perhaps the most important has been within this education realm (Findley & Cooper, 1983). It has been said that a good education is the key to being successful and while many things contribute to school achievement, one variable that has been overlooked to a large degree is locus of control (Findley & Cooper, 1983).

In health studies there is a lot of interest in understanding the relationship between locus of control beliefs and different health situations, attitudes and behaviours (Wallston, 1970). A great deal of research has linked internal locus of control to positive health beliefs and outcomes. Internal locus of control has been associated with ability to stop smoking (Coan, 1973), ability to lose weight ( Balch and Ross, 1975), knowledge about disease ( Seeman and Evans, 1962).

Research also suggests that that internal locus of control is associated with nurturing and accepting parents who maintain consistent discipline. Mechanic (1964) found that mothers beliefs were only slightly related to those of their children.

Further research has shown that as children grow older, they gain skills that give them more control over their environment. In support of this, psychological research has found that older children have more internal locus of control than younger children. Adults and children with an internal locus of control have been found to take responsibility for their actions, are not easily influenced by the opinions of others and tend to do better at tasks when they can work at their own pace. By comparison, People with external locus of control tend to blame outside circumstances for their mistakes and credit their success to luck rather than to their own efforts. They are readily influenced by others and are more likely to pay attention to the status of the opinion holder, while people with an internal locus of control pay more attention to the content of the opinion regardless of who holds it. Others have found a positive relation between internality and willingness to delay rewards in order to maximize them (Bailer, 1961) and preference to perform in skill rather than in chance situations (Rotter & Mulry, 1965). Each tendency should mean internals have a greater likelihood of achievement. Subsequent investigations of "internality-externality" have established that it is a useful and valid way of classifying students in terms of how they attribute the rewards and reinforcements they receive following their actions and behaviours. (Dweck,1986)

Future Studies

These studies show that there are different factors that need to be taken into consideration and that can affect a persons decision making process such as environmental, educational, etc when looking at individual personality, attitude and behaviour. Researchers have also argued that expectancy of an outcome are more important than a sense of personal control (Carver and &Scheier, 1981). Sherman (1984) noted the vast majority of studies dealing with the development of locus of control beliefs are cross sectional in design. Baltes and Nesselroade (1972) point out that cross-sectional research confounds cultural and maturational components of change.

Further studies could be completed researching students that have a higher internal control, and those with a lower internal control to see if there are any significant differences between the group. Also, similar studies might be completed that tested the locus of control in larger sample populations over an extended period of time. Re-testing would be administered to the subjects at regular intervals while taking into consideration environmental factors and sex and aging related issues. This study would be completed to examine whether the locus of control changed in those persons initially internally motivated and initially externally motivated or if it remained relatively the same over time. For instance, Ducette and Wolk (1972) found that externals tend to exhibit less persistence at tasks. Others have found a positive relation between internality and willingness to delay rewards in order to maximize them (Bailer, 1961) and preference to perform in skill rather than in chance situations (Rotter & Mulry, 1965).

Another area of research that can be looked at is locus of control is different for those persons with high education levels as compared to those persons with low education levels. It has been stated that internals take pride in good outcomes and feel shame in bad outcomes, whereas, externals experience less intense emotions either way (Phares, 1976). Studies have been completed associating internal locus of control beliefs with behaviours that affect the probability of attaining success (Findley & Cooper, 1983). Other studies could look at students with a higher internal control over a long period of time to see whether as they progress through their studies does the internal control increase or decrease over time. Cognitive theories recognize complex internal cognitive and social factors in students as significant in producing achievement motivation. However, this have been challenged by behaviouristic theories, which recognize external stimuli as factors in producing achievement motivation in students. (Lefrancois, 1988). In summary, evidence suggests that persons with internal locus of control are more independent, cognitively able, mentally aware, predisposed to learning and motivated than persons with external locus of control

Another area of research that can be explored is whether sex is a predictor of locus of

control. This study found that the factor social restrictiveness were found to vary significantly based on gender Specifically, males were found to have scores on social restrictiveness that were, on average, 8.097 points higher as compared with females. Strain studied the effect of locus of control among other possible predictors of persistence in low-achieving students in a two-year college. She examined a sample of 313 students in a developmental studies program enrolled on the basis of cutoff scores from institutional entrance examinations. Locus of control was measured by the adult Nowicki-Strickland Locus of Control Scale. Achievement motivation was measured by a work and family questionnaire, composed of three factors: work, mastery, and competitiveness. Among the possible predictors of persistence were locus of control, achievement motivation, age, sex, race, family income, educational objective, major, intended duration of schooling, and college grade-point average. From the study emerged three significant predictors of persistence: first semester college grade point average, locus of control, and race. A series of t-tests revealed statistically different means on the locus of control scale between female and male subjects. Females were found to be more internal than males.

The psychology of control plays an important part in the life of people, and determines their attitudes and responses to events. A sense of control also affects how people deal with what is considered an undesirable situation or life event. The mentioned studies show that individuals differ in the way they make their decisions and certain factors are implicated in this decision process. Therefore, the question has to be asked, what are the underlying reasons, causes in a persons decision making process, that impact and influence their behaviour. As we grow from a child to an adult, is our environment, culture, social strata, economical status, sex an important influence in the way we make decisions as some of the mentioned studies have shown. It can be argued that these are influential in the way we develop as individuals and unknowingly may impact our developed personalities and personal control. There is a need to implement new studies to illuminate the subject of locus of control in students. Whilst there was no significant difference between groups, The study highlighted that there are differences between groups on demographic factors and that students with an external control had a higher mean score on authoritarianism, social restrictiveness and interpersonal etiology. These findings show that externals attitudes towards people with mental illness may be that of inferiority, social restrictiveness and due to personal experience. However, these effects were minimal and should be explored further. Also there were no significant differences between gender, however males scored higher on social restrictiveness, but due to the minimal amount of male participants, this result is not conclusive, and needs to be explored further on a larger male population.


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