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The desirability of control

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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.

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This research was facilitated by National Science Foundation grant BNS78-08834 to Harris Cooper.

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Burger, J.M., Cooper, H.M. The desirability of control. Motiv Emot 3, 381–393 (1979).

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