Locus of control as a stress moderator and mediator in children of divorce

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This paper examined the stress moderator and mediator effects of four dimensions of perceived control in children of divorce. The dimensions of locus of control included internal control for positive events, internal control for negative events, unknown control for positive events, and unknown control for negative events. The sample consisted of 222 children between the ages of 8 and 12 whose parents had divorced in the previous 2 years. Moderational analyses showed that unknown control for positive events interacted with negative events to predict total symptoms. Plots of the simple slopes indicated a stress buffering effect whereby the slope of negative events on symptoms was higher for high than for low levels of unknown control for positive events. Mediational analysis showed that the relations between negative events and symptoms were mediated by both unknown control for positive events and unknown control for negative events. In contrast, evidence was not found for either a stress mediational or a moderational model for perceived internal control for positive or negative events. These results suggest that unknown control beliefs may be a particularly important dimension of control for children of divorce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997


  • Locus of control
  • children of divorce
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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