Locus of control (LOC) is a measure that identifies the likelihood as to whether an individual considers what happens to him is largely a matter of luck or fate (known as externally oriented) or whether it is something that the individual can influence (internality). Here we have used data collected as part of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) to determine the associations between the mothers’ LOC orientation before the birth of the child and her child’s cognition measured at age 8. Using results from 6801 children we show that maternal internal LOC is associated with increased ability in offspring IQ, as measured using the WISC, with children of internally oriented mothers having an advantage of approximately 7 IQ points at age 8. As a sensitivity analysis we used the IQ test results of a sample of 986 preschool children tested using the WPSSI at age 4. A similar advantage was found among the offspring of the internally oriented mothers. We investigated mechanistic explanations for these results firstly by determining the extent to which three separate sets of factors known to be influenced by the LOC orientation might explain these findings. We showed that (a) perinatal life-style exposures, (b) parenting attitudes and strategies and (c) socio-economic circumstances, largely explain the mechanism through which the internality of the mother influences the cognition of the child. Similar effects were found using the smaller sample tested at age 4. The results indicate that efforts made to foster internality in adolescents and young adults prior to parenthood may result in improvements in the cognitive development of the next generation. Intervention studies are urgently needed.
|Journal||Frontiers in Psychology|
|Publication status||Published - 22 Aug 2017|
- Material locus of control
- child congnition
- child IQ
- Verbal IQ
- performance IQ