Events associated with stability and change in adult locus of control orientation over a six-year period

Stephen Nowicki, Genette Ellis, Yaz Iles-Caven, Steve Gregory, Jean Golding *

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
311 Downloads (Pure)


Although locus of control (LOC) has been the focus of thousands of studies we know little about how or if it changes over time and what is associated with change. Our lack of knowledge stems in part from the past use of cross-sectional and not longitudinal methodologies to study small numbers of participants from non-representative populations. The purpose of the present study was to use a longitudinal design with a large representative population to provide relevant information concerning the stability and change of adult LOC. Before the birth of their child, and again six years later, mothers and their partners participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) completed LOC tests and structured stressful events surveys. Analyses revealed that stresses experienced in relationships with spouses, friends and family, financial stability and job security, and illness/smoking were associated with changes in LOC. Results suggest substantial variation of LOC within spousal/parent dyads and moderate stability of LOC over time for both men and women. Stressors associated with change in LOC may be possible candidates when considering interventions to modify LOC expectancies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages8
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Early online date3 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Life stressors
  • Longitudinal cohort
  • Parental locus of control
  • Stability over time


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