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Abstract

Several investigators report a distinction between inward (withdrawn, somaticizing, fearful) behavior and outward (antisocial, hostile, aggressive) behavior. The present study was designed to clarify the relationship between type of coping behavior and locus of control (i.e., the attribution of causality to internal vs. external factors) for children aged 4 to 12 years. Two locus of control (LOC) instruments were administered—the Nowicki-Strickland and a new measure which distinguished between LOC for desirable and undesirable events. Measures of coping behavior were completed by parents. Results indicated that the new LOC scale related to type of coping behavior: external LOC children tended to have a greater proportion of inward behavior. Furthermore, desirable-event items were better able to distinguish between inward and outward behavior than were undesirable-event items. The Nowicki-Strickland scale was significantly correlated with the new scale, but not with coping behavior. Replication of the findings was obtained in a subsequent study. Discussion centered on the relationship between generalized perceptions of control and situationally manipulated perceptions of control, and differences between perceptions of control involved in inward and outward behavior.