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Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2004;8(3):308-19.

It's beyond my control: a cross-temporal meta-analysis of increasing externality in locus of control, 1960-2002.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, CA 92182-4611, USA. jtwenge@mail.sdsu.edu

Abstract

Two meta-analyses found that young Americans increasingly believe their lives are controlled by outside forces rather than their own efforts. Locus of control scores became substantially more external (about.80 standard deviations) in college student and child samples between 1960 and 2002. The average college student in 2002 had a more external locus of control than 80% of college students in the early 1960s. Birth cohort/time period explains 14% of the variance in locus of control scores. The data included 97 samples of college students (n = 18,310) and 41 samples of children ages 9 to 14 (n = 6,554) gathered from dissertation research. The results are consistent with an alienation model positing increases in cynicism, individualism, and the self-serving bias. The implications are almost uniformly negative, as externality is correlated with poor school achievement, helplessness, ineffective stress management, decreased self-control, and depression.

PMID:
15454351
DOI:
10.1207/s15327957pspr0803_5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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