Multidimensional Locus of Control in Prison Inmates1


  • Hanna Levenson

    1. Texas A&M University
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    • 2

      Requests for reprints should be sent to Hanna Levenson, Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843.

    • 3

      Gratitude is extended to Tom Allen for his assistance in administering the scales and to Shirley Farber for her help in preparing the data for computer analysis. In addition, special thanks are extended to Joe E. Reed and Stephen R. Pipkin of the Division of Research, Planning, and Development, Texas Department of Corrections, for their administrative approval and facilitation of this project.

  • 1

    This research was supported by a grant from the Liberal Arts Research Council, Texas A&M University.


This study examined public offenders' generalized expectancies of control as they relate to length of time in prison and behavior within the institution, in order to demonstrate the usefulness of a multidimensional modification of Rotter's locus of control scale with a prison sample. Inmates (N= 145) serving sentences in a large, state prison responded to three locus of control scales designed to measure separately expectancies of internality, of control by powerful others, and of control by chance forces. It was reasoned that if the separation of control into these three orientations is meaningful, then changes in perceptions of control by powerful others should be particularly relevant to the prison experience. As predicted, scores on the Powerful Others scale were significantly related to length of time in prison and number of times punished by solitary confinement.