• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

At every point in the life span, individual differences in a sense of control are strong predictors of motivation, coping, success, and failure in a wide range of life domains. What are the origins of these individual differences, how do they develop, and what are the mechanisms by which they exert such influence on psychological functioning? This book draws on theories and research covering key control constructs, including self-efficacy, learned helplessness, locus of control, and attribution theory. Ellen A. Skinner discusses such issues as the origins of control in social interactions; environmental features that promote or undermine control; developmental change in the mechanisms by which experiences of control have their effects on action; and the implications for intervening into the competence system, including interventions for ...

Is More Control Better?
Is more control better?

In interventions designed to optimize control, it seems easy to identify the target outcome: More is better. Voluminous research suggests that both objective and subjective control provide a psychological advantage in most, if not all, domains of functioning. In fact, research on illusions of control suggests that these perceptions are adaptive even when they are counterfactual (Taylor, 1989; Taylor & Brown, 1988). Overly optimistic biases have been linked with happiness and mental health (Greenwald, 1980), and high and unrealistic expectations of control are the norm for young children (Stipek, 1984). In fact, people who form accurate estimations of response-outcome contingencies are more likely to be depressed (Alloy & Abramson, 1979). The implications of such a position for intervention ...

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