The longitudinal association between external locus of control, social cognition and adolescent psychopathology

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To investigate the longitudinal associations between social cognitive ability an external locus of control (externality) and adolescent psychopathology.

7058 participants from a prospective population-based cohort provided data on externality, social communication and emotion perception between 7 to 16 years and psychotic experiences and depressive symptoms at 12 and 18 years. Bivariate probit modelling was used to investigate associations between these risk factors and psychopathological outcomes.

Externality was associated with psychopathology at 12 (psychotic experiences OR1.23 95%CI 1.14,1.33; depression OR1.12 95%CI 1.02,1.22) and 18 years (psychotic experiences OR1.38 95% CI1.23,1.55; depression OR1.40 95% CI1.28,1.52). Poor social communication was associated with depression at both ages (12 years OR1.22 95%CI 1.11,1.34; 18 years OR1.21 95%CI 1.10,1.33) and marginally associated with psychotic experiences. There was marginal evidence of a larger association between externality and psychotic experiences at 12 years (p=0.06) and between social communication and depression at 12 years (p=0.03).

Externality was more strongly associated with psychotic experiences. At 18 years change in externality between 8 and 16 years was associated with a larger increase in the risk of depression. Poor social communication was more strongly associated with depression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-655
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number6
Early online date7 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • psychotic experiences
  • depressive symptoms
  • social communication

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