Locus of control, negative live events and psychopathological symptoms in collectivist adolescents

Highlights:

LoC has stress-mediating and stress-moderating effects in individualist cultures.

Such effects have not been tested in adolescents from collectivist cultures.

The study tested 2800 adolescents from 7 collectivist countries.

Replicating prior studies, external LoC was linked to more psychological symptoms. However, there was no clear evidence of mediating or moderating effects.

A current research trend is the identification of psychosocial variables that moderate and/or mediate the association between stressors and psychopathological symptoms. Research has shown Locus of Control (LoC) is a key cognitive component of this psychological process in adolescents from individualist cultures. It is unclear whether this finding can be generalized to collectivist adolescents given that LoC is argued to be a culturally relative construct. The study examined the moderating and mediating effects of LoC on the relationship between negative events and psychopathological symptoms (anxiety and depressive symptoms) in adolescents from collectivist countries (n = 2800). Consistent with prior research, negative life events and external LoC were associated with more psychopathological symptoms. Unlike past studies with samples from individualist countries, the study did not produce clear evidence that LoC moderated or mediated this relationship. Results are discussed in terms of cultural differences in the (un)desirability of external control.

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