Impact of divorce on locus of control orientation in adult women: A longitudinal study

William J. Doherty

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26 Scopus citations


Examined the relation between getting divorced and changes in the individual's locus of control orientation using longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Labor Market Experience. The sample contained 1,814 White women aged 32-46 yrs who were in their 1st marriage in 1969. Marital status and locus of control (an 11-item abbreviated version of Rotter's Internal-External Locus of Control Scale) were measured in 1969, 1972, and 1977. Based on the literature on locus of control and life events and on divorce, stress, and mental health, it was hypothesized that divorced Ss, in comparison with those who remained married, would show a short-term increase in externality from 1969 to 1972, followed by a return over the next 5 yrs to levels of locus of control comparable to that of the group who remained married. It was also hypothesized that locus of control scores would not predict the likelihood of becoming divorced over the 8-yr period. All 3 hypotheses were confirmed. Findings are discussed in the context of 2 issues: the influence of important life events on locus of control and the causal direction in the well-documented association between divorce and mental health. (24 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)834-840
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1983


  • divorce, locus of control, 32-46 yr old females, 8 yr longitudinal study


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