Locus of Control Orientation: Parents, Peers, and Place
- 1.7k Downloads
An internal locus of control contributes to positive youth outcomes such as a general well-being and academic success, while also serving as a protective factor against exposure to community violence and reducing negative behaviors like violence. Despite these benefits, very little is known about antecedents of an internal locus of control orientation. Without an understanding of what factors contribute to the development of an internal locus of control, it is not clear how to best encourage its formation. This study uses data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods to examine whether various mesosystem variables (family management strategies, peer interactions, neighborhood context, and individual-level characteristics) are associated with an internal locus of control orientation among 1,076 youth ages 9–19 living in 78 Chicago neighborhoods. Study participants were Hispanic (46 %), African American (34 %), and White (15 %), and 50 % were female. The findings suggest that, while most levels of the mesosystem influence locus of control orientation, family management strategies are more prominent determinants of an internal locus of control than peers, neighborhood context, or individual characteristics. Parental supervision over the time a youth spends at home and family socioeconomic status are consistent predictors of an internal locus of control, while harsh discipline is associated with an external locus of control. The discussion examines the import of various parenting techniques in shaping an internal locus of control and considers future avenues for research to further unpack how antecedents of locus of control can vary across youth.
KeywordsLocus of control Family management strategies Peers Neighborhood context Prosocial behavior
We thank Roger J.R. Levesque and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this article.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest in the research.
EA conceived of the study, conducted statistical analyses, and participated in drafting the manuscript. JLA interpreted data, conducted statistical analyses, and participated in drafting the manuscript. Both authors contributed equally to the study design, and read and approved the final manuscript.
- Ahlin, E. M. (2013). Youth involvement in crime: The importance of locus of control and collective efficacy. El Paso, TX: LFB Scholarly Publishing.Google Scholar
- Beale-Spencer, M., Cole, S. P., Jones, S. M., & Swanson, D. P. (1997). Neighborhood and family influences on young urban adolescents’ behavior problems: A multisample, multisite analysis. In J. Brooks-Gunn, G. J. Duncan, & J. L. Aber (Eds.), Neighborhood poverty: Context and consequences for children (Vol. 1, pp. 200–218). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
- Benson, M. (2013). Crime and the life course. An introduction (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.Google Scholar
- Bronfenbrenner, U. (1989). Ecological systems theory. In R. Vasta (Ed.), Six theories of child development: Revised formulations and current issues (Vol. 6, pp. 187–249). Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
- Carton, J. S., & Nowicki, S. (1994). Antecedents of individual differences in locus of control of reinforcement: A critical review. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 120(1), 31–81.Google Scholar
- Chance, J. E. (1965). Internal control of reinforcements and the school learning process. Minneapolis, MN: Paper Presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Convention.Google Scholar
- Crandall, V. C., & Crandall, B. W. (1983). Maternal and childhood behaviors as antecedents of internal-external control perceptions in young adulthood. In H. M. Lefcourt (Ed.), Research with the locus of control construct: Developments and social problems (Vol. 2, pp. 53–103). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Furstenberg, F. F, Jr, Cook, T. D., Eccles, J., Elder, G. H, Jr, & Sameroff, A. (1999). Managing to make it: Urban families and adolescent success. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- García-Cadena, C. H., Moral de la Rubia, J., Díaz-Díaz, H. L., Martínez-Rodríguez, J., Sánchez-Reyes, L., & López-Rosales, F. (2013). Effect of family strength over the psychological well-being and internal locus of control. Journal of Behavior, Health & Social Issues, 5(2), 33–46.Google Scholar
- Gierowski, J. K., & Rajtar, T. (2003). Chosen factors influencing the locus of control in perpetrators of criminal acts (pp. 129–138). LIII: Problems of Forensic Science.Google Scholar
- Houts, S., & Kassab, C. (1997). Rotter’s social learning theory and fear of crime: Differences by race and ethnicity. Social Science Quarterly, 78(1), 122–136.Google Scholar
- Huang, D., Gribbons, B., Kim, K. S., Lee, C., & Baker, E. L. (2000). A decade of results: The impact of the LA’s BEST after school enrichment program on subsequent student achievement and performance. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for the Study of Evaluation.Google Scholar
- Lefcourt, H. M. (1982). Locus of control: Current trends in theory and research (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence-Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Miller, J. B. (1986). Toward a new psychology of women (2nd ed.). Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
- Peterson, C., Maier, S. F., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1993). Learned helplessness. New York: Oxford University.Google Scholar
- Phares, E. J. (1976). Locus of control in personality. Morristown, NJ: General Learning Press.Google Scholar
- Raudenbush, S., & Bryk, A. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Rotter, J. B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs, 80(1), 1–28.Google Scholar
- Sanders, M. R. (2003). Triple P—Positive parenting program: A population approach to promoting competent parenting. Australian e-Journal for the Advancement of Mental Health, 2(3), 127–143.Google Scholar
- Seidman, E., Yoshikawa, H., Roberts, A., Chesir-Teran, D., Allen, L., Friedman, J. L., & Aber, J. L. (1998). Structural and experiential neighborhood contexts, developmental stage and antisocial behavior among urban adolescents in poverty. Developmental and Psychopathology, 10(2), 259–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Sullivan, C. J. (2012). A comprehensive investigation of the role of the individuals, the immediate social environment, and neighborhoods in trajectories of adolescent antisocial behavior. Final technical report. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.Google Scholar