Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Kathleen Gorman


Economic stress is associated with a number of adverse psychological, academic and health outcomes. This study investigated the relationship between locus of control and decision making styles in accounting for variation in economic stress among low-income participants. Mothers of preschool children attending day care centers in low income areas completed surveys on locus of control, five decision making styles, and economic stress. It was hypothesized that more internal locus of control would be related to lower levels of economic stress and that the relation between stress and locus of control would be mediated by decision making styles, with dependent and avoidant styles being associated with more economic stress than rational and intuitive decision making styles.

As expected, a more external locus of control was associated with more economic stress as compared to more internal locus of control. There was no association between any decision making styles with locus of control or economic stress and no support for the hypothesis of decision making style as a mediator of this relationship. Results suggest that at times, perceived control over one's economic situation can be predictive of decreased economic stress among a generally low-income population. Future research should address whether it may be possible to address economic stress and the detrimental effects it can have through policies that empower individuals to take control over their economic situations, even independent of income.



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