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Abstract

Desire for control (DC) or need for control has frequently been proposed as an important personality characteristic and as a possible crucial moderator within the fields of achievement, psychological adaptation, stress, and health. However, unlike locus of control, hardly any effort has been undertaken to assess the construct. An exception is the work of Burger and Cooper on the Desirability of Control Scale (1979). In the present study, the psychometric properties of a Dutch version of the DC scale were tested in three different samples (total N = 1044). Furthermore, relationships between DC, its subscales, and various psychological personality and outcome measures were examined.

The results show that the psychometric properties of the original DC scale could be successfully transposed to the Dutch version. Furthermore, factor analyses (PCA) led to the construction of three reliable subscales: ‘control others’ (desire to be in charge of and control others), ‘control self’ (desire to control one's own life), and ‘relinquish control’ (desire to leave others in control). The pattern of relationships with convergent and outcome variables supports the interpretation of these subscales. For ‘control others’, as for the total DC scale (i.e. a total of all 20 items), the emphasis of these relationships was on dominance, active coping, and psychological adjustment. ‘Control self’ was mainly related to self-sufficiency and independence, while ‘relinquish control’ was clearly associated with passive coping and poor psychological adjustment. In summary, the DC scale appears to be a psychometrically sound instrument to assess desire for control and its subdimensions. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.