Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 381–393 | Cite as

The desirability of control

  • Jerry M. Burger
  • Harris M. Cooper


The psychological construct of desirability of control was related to several theoretical statements (e.g., Kelley, 1971; White, 1959) and areas of current research (e.g., Glass & Singer, 1972; Deci, 1975) in psychology. A scale designed to measure individual differences in the general level of motivation to control the events in one's life was presented. The Desirability of Control Scale was found to have substantial internal consistency (.80) and test-retest reliability (.75), as well as discriminant validity from measures of locus of control (Rotter, 1966) and social desirability (Crowne & Marlowe, 1960). The results of an “illusion of control” study (cf. Langer, 1975) provided construct validation: only subjects high in the desire for control displayed a belief in personal control over chance outcomes. Construct validation was also provided from studies on learned helplessness and hypnosis. The practical, as well as theoretical, value of the instrument was discussed.


Internal Consistency Individual Difference Social Psychology Construct Validation General Level 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerry M. Burger
    • 1
  • Harris M. Cooper
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Research in Social BehaviorUniversity of Missouri—ColumbiaColumbia

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