Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Fifty-four middle school age (sixth to eighth grade) children took part in a study designed to examine the effects of situational control and performance feedback on locus of control orientation. The subjects took part in a task situation in which they were asked to read three fictitious experiments and decide from a list of ten results which ones were actually found in the experiment and which were not. Pre and post-task measures were obtained on two locus of control scales. The Locus of Control Scale For Success - Failure (Epstein and Komorita, 1971) was answered in direct relation to the task situation and provided a task specific measure of control orientation. The pre-task measure on this scale was obtained by giving the subjects a sample of the task to examine prior to the experimental manipulations. The Intellectual Achievement Responsibility Questionnaire (IAR) (Crandall, et. al., 1965) was used to obtain the subjects' control orientation for the academic achievement situation. The pre-testing was done in large groups and took place at least two weeks prior to the individual task situation and post-testing. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three instruction groups: skill (personal control) oriented, chance (no personal control) oriented, or no control orientation. Subjects were also randomly assigned to one of three feedback (falsified) groups: success, failure, or no feedback. This design yielded nine treatment groups with six subjects in each group. The hypotheses tested were (a) The experience of personal control (skill instructions) would lead to greater internal control orientation, while the experience of no personal control (chance instructions) would result in greater external control orientation. (b) Success feedback would bring about a shift toward a more internal control orientation and failure feedback would result in a greater external control orientation. The no control orientation instructions and the no feedback factors were used as controls on type of instructions and type of feedback, respectively, and were not expected to lead to any differential shifting in control orientation. No interaction effects were predicted. The test data were analyzed in a 3 X 3 X 2, mixed effects analysis of variance, with repeated measures on the pre and post task locus of control score factor. Separate analyses were performed on the Locus of Control Scale for Success-Failure and on the r+ subscale, r- subscale, and total I score of the TAR. The results did not support the first hypothesis. Personal control versus no personal control, as manipulated by skill-chance instructions had no significant effects on locus of control scores. The results supported the second hypothesis fairly clearly with the Locus of Control Scale for SuccessFailure but not at all with the IAR. A significant trials X feedback interreaction with the Locus of Control Scale for Success - Failure scores was broken down and indicated that: (a) The failure and success groups changed differentially. (b) The failure and no feedback groups changed differentially. (c) The failure group changed significantly in a more external direction. (d) The failure group was significantly more external than the success group on the post-test, while there were no significant differences among the three feedback groups on the pre-test. The only significant finding with the IAR was an overall shift towards greater internality on the r- subscale and the total I score. Results were discussed in terms of the generalization and multidimensionality of the locus of control concept.

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