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

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Using longitudinal data for adult women from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Labor Market Experience, this study examined the relation between getting divorced and changes in the individual's locus of control orientation. The sample contained 1,814 white women ages 32-46 years who were in their first 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 previous literature on locus of control and life events and on divorce, stress, and mental health, the author hypothesized that divorced people, in comparison with those who remained married, would show a short-term increase in externality from 1969-1972, followed by a return over the next 5 years 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-year period. All three hypotheses were confirmed. The findings were discussed in the context of two larger theoretical 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)834-840
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 1983


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