The Influence of Group Identity: A Social Identity Perspective of Locus of Control

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


Psychology and Special Education

Date of Award

Spring 2018


Locus of control represents the perception one has concerning the consequences of his or her behavior. It has been researched by a number of disciplines including personality psychology, health and nursing, and business. Recently there has been a push to apply a broader, multidisciplinary approach to locus of control. Growing out of a need to explain behaviors and perceptions at the personal level within the context of the larger group, social identity theory represents a methodological approach to locus of control that has yet to be examined. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of identification with a group (i.e., social identity) and the effects of salient group comparisons (i.e., self-categorization theory) on locus of control.In order to test these hypotheses, two studies were conducted. In the first study (N = 218) I examined locus of control from a social identity theory perspective, having students identify themselves as either an American or university student. After being randomly assigned to a group, participants completed measures of ingroup identification, several locus of control scales, and a measure of self-efficacy. While the results showed no differences between the groups, both a relationship between group identification and locus of control as well as a mediating effect of group identification on the relationship between locus of control and self-efficacy were found. For Study 2 (N = 305), I sought to examine these effects consistent with self-categorization theory by manipulating salient group comparisons, having participants think of themselves as a university student compared to bikers (i.e., high internal loci), monks (i.e., high external loci), or no group comparison (i.e., control). Participants completed the same measures as Study 1. Results indicated no differences between the two groups resulting in an acceptance of the null hypothesis. However, Study 1 was successfully replicated. While no influence was found with salient group comparisons, a relationship and mediating effect between the two core variables exists. These findings offer some support to early assertions concerning the variations in personality traits due to social and environmental influences. Further limitations and future directions are also discussed.


Stephen Reysen

Subject Categories

Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences