The Role of Personal Control in Adaptive Functioning

Suzanne C. Thompson

in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, 3rd Edition

ISBN: 9780199396511
Published online March 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780190635206 | DOI:
The Role of Personal Control in Adaptive Functioning

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A sense of personal control helps people maintain emotional stability and negotiate their way through life. People foster this by focusing on reachable goals, creating new avenues for control, and accepting difficult-to-change circumstances. Perceived control need not be realistic in order to have beneficial effects. Research suggests that those from more collectivist cultures may derive less benefit from a sense of personal control, relying instead on a socially derived sense of control. Interventions to enhance personal control include programs that bolster coping skills, give options to participants, encourage attributions to controllable factors, and focus on empowerment. Future research should include longitudinal studies that examine disconfirmations of control and the value of maintaining vs. relinquishing control following a traumatic event. More attention is also needed on cultural differences in perceived control, the effects of illusory control on health-promotion behaviors, and interventions to increase perceived control in everyday life.

Keywords: personal control; adaptive functioning; perceived control; individual differences; ethnic group differences

Article.  7943 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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