Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

William Vosburgh


A two phase study is reported on the same 100 preschool and grade five children which investigates the relationship between age and locus of control. Phase 1 examined reliabilities and validities of the Children's Locus of Control Scale and a Piaget-type measure of chance conceptualization in consideration of evidence that the relationship between age and internal locus of control reflects two control relevant constructs, perceived competence and perceived contingency. The two scales were found to be reliable and valid. Results suggested a direct relationship between perceived competence and chronological age, and an inverse relationship between perceived contingency and chronological age. Phase 2 examined the developmental effects of perceived competence and perceived contingency on locus of control. Children were exposed to identical experimental procedures and were distinguished in terms of expectancies for success under skill and chance conditions. Results confirmed that grade five children respond to the skill versus chance dichotomy in ways predicted by Rotter's theory of locus of control. However, preschool children respond in ways predicted by Piaget's cognitive developmental theory. It was contended that cognitions about competence and contingency mediate between situational variables and performance.



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