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Conceptual -level development and locus of control: Considerations for counseling

Gregory L Page, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Theory and recent research in the area of locus of control suggest that locus of control is related to experience. Internal locus of control, which has been associated with healthier psychological functioning (Hoorens & Buunk, 1993), has been suggested to be a function of complex conceptualizations of alternative courses of action and their consequences (Germain, 1985). This suggests that there should be a relationship between locus of control and cognitive development, with more abstract individuals exhibiting more internal locus of control and more concrete individuals exhibiting more external locus of control. However, research examining this relationship has generally not directly examined cognitive development, but has typically used age as a developmental marker of cognitive development and suggesting that since children typically have external locus of control and adults have internal locus of control, the differences are due to cognitive development. ^ Scores on the Adult Nowicki-Strickland Internal-External Scale (ANS-IE), the Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ), and Conceptual Level scores from the Paragraph Completion Test (PCT) were analyzed via univariate correlations. The ANS-IE is a traditional locus of control measure; the ASQ is a causal attributional measure, theoretically associated with locus of control; and the PCT assesses cognitive development from the perspective of Conceptual Systems Theory (Harvey, Hunt, & Schroder, 1961) which describes the development of abstractness and complexity of conceptual systems. ^ Eighty-six students enrolled in educational psychology courses at a Midwestern university completed the two measures of locus of control and the PCT. A univariate correlation between the ANS-IE and the PCT indicated that individuals possessing more internal locus of control also possessed more abstract conceptual systems (r = −.26, p < .05). Univariate correlations between the ASQ and PCT scores did not reach significance. Gender differences were not found on the data from the ANS-IE, ASQ, or PCT. Possible threats to validity included poor instrument reliability, the ASQ not demonstrating construct validity with the ANS-IE, and the restricted range of PCT scores. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Page, Gregory L, "Conceptual -level development and locus of control: Considerations for counseling" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9992002.