Validation of Health Locus of Control Patterns in Swedish Adolescents

By Ozolins, Andrejs R.; Stenstrom, Ulf | Adolescence, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

Validation of Health Locus of Control Patterns in Swedish Adolescents


Ozolins, Andrejs R., Stenstrom, Ulf, Adolescence


Self-esteem and health locus of control are variables widely used in research on adolescent psychology as well as in clinical and educational practice. These two variables, which are presumed to be associated with certain parental practices and characteristics such as warmth, supportiveness, and encouragement of independence (Baumrind, 1989; Coppersmith, 1967), have been found to be correlated with health behaviors. For example, individuals who believe that health is a function of personal behavior (internal locus of control) have been shown to take greater responsibility for their health (i.e., engage in more preventive behaviors) than those with an external control orientation, that is, the belief that health is a function of luck/chance or determined by powerful others such as doctors, other health professionals, and family members (Strickland, 1978; Wallston & Wallston, 1981). In addition, depression, pessimism, maladaptive coping style, Anxiety, poor health habits, sub stance abuse, low level of involvement in school activities, and high degree of societal estrangement have been linked to low levels of internal locus of control, strong belief in chance, and low self-esteem in adolescents (Dielman, Campanelli, Shope & Butchart, 1987; Downs & Rose, 1991; MacGregor, Regis, & Balding, 1997; Penny & Robinson, 1986; Roberts, Roberts, & Chen, 2000; Takakura & Sakihara, 2000). Thus, the importance of the interplay between these two variables has been repeatedly demonstrated--a matter that makes them suitable for further examination in the present study, specifically via a more unconventional use of the Health Locus of Control (HLOC) questionnaire (Thompson, Webber, & Berenson, 1988).

Most of the research using the HLOC questionnaire has focused on its three subscales (Internal, Chance, Powerful Others) separately. However, since individuals can differ markedly in their combination of scores on these subscales, examining locus of control patterns, or profiles, may provide more information than the traditional one-to-one correlational approach.

Wallston and Wallston (1982) recommended that individuals be categorized in terms of eight possible locus of control patterns, based on whether they score high or low (determined by median splits) on each of the three subscales. These eight are as follows: PI = Pure Internal (high Internal, low Powerful Others, and low Chance); PP = Pure Powerful Others (high Powerful Others, low Internal, and low Chance); PC = Pure Chance (high Chance, low Internal, and low Powerful Others); DE = Double External (high Powerful Others, high Chance, and low Internal); BiC = Believer in Control (high Internal, high Powerful Others, and low Chance); T-VI = an unnamed type referred to as Type-VI (high Internal, high Chance, and low Powerful Others); YS = Yea-sayer (high on all three subscales); and NS = Nay-sayer (low on all three subscales).

The objectives of the present study were to examine the relationship between these eight locus of control patterns and self-esteem in a group of Swedish adolescents, and to investigate whether the patterns could render information beyond that provided by the one-to-one approach.

METHOD

Participants and Procedure

A total of 506 Swedish adolescents (252 boys, 254 girls), with a mean age of 15.6 years (SD = 1.7; range = 13-19), participated in this cross-sectional study (86.9% response rate). The adolescents were drawn from a random sample of schools in a midsize southern Swedish town. The school principals were asked to select classes considered representative with respect to distribution of boys and girls, socioeconomic status, and urban (80%) and rural (20%) students. An information leaflet was distributed that described the aim of the study and explained that participation was voluntary and anonymous. For children below 16 years of age, the teachers distributed the information leaflets to parents, who were asked to provide written consent.

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Validation of Health Locus of Control Patterns in Swedish Adolescents
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