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J Affect Disord. 2006 Apr;91(2-3):113-24. Epub 2006 Feb 17.

An integrative model of control: implications for understanding emotion regulation and dysregulation in childhood anxiety.

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Department of Psychology, University of New Orleans, LA 70148, USA.


Theorists and investigators have emphasized an important role for control in emotional problems such as anxiety and anxiety disorders in youth. However, the term "control" is subject to theoretical ambiguities because of the broad conceptual bases for the term. In this article, we examine the concepts of locus of control, learned helplessness/attributional style, self-efficacy, and perceived control to develop an integrative model of control based on research and theory. The review emphasizes each of the theories distinguishing features in order to show how these distinctive features relate to real versus perceived control and how they may be differentially associated with childhood anxiety. We attempt to clarify the various definitions of control and the implications of these various definitions with respect to childhood anxiety, its disorders and their treatment and present a model of control that is integrative but also addresses the complexities of the different definitions of control (i.e., is multifaceted). The model developed from our review of the literature postulates that individuals differ in the extent to which they actually have control and differ, also on a continuum, in their perceptions of control. The need for this integrative model is highlighted by methodological, developmental, and clinical considerations. In particular, research has operationalized control and related constructs such as emotion regulation in ways that may be confounding actual control and perceived control. The need for an integrative but also multifaceted conceptualization of the role of control in childhood anxiety is also highlighted by clinical and developmental considerations. For instance, different facets of control may have differential relevance to clinical anxiety and at different points in childhood.

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