• 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 ...

What are the Dangers of Intervening into the Competence System?
What are the dangers of intervening into the competence system?

A needs theory of competence leads to the simple conclusion that the overarching goal of all interventions into the competence system should be to provide infants, children, adults, and the elderly with opportunities to exercise control, and should also shield them from perceptions and experiences of loss of control. It should be quickly pointed out that the competence system does not benefit from being “protected” from obstacles, resistance, failure, mistakes, ineffective attempts, difficult tasks, challenges, and negative events. Tasks of “just manageable difficulty,” which are replete with unsuccessful attempts, are the natural playground for the operation of the competence system, and dealing with them provides learning ...

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