Two traditions of research on the concept of control have developed. One tradition involves the experimental manipulation of control, usually with a focus enhancing control and thus improving adjustment and well-being. The other tradition regards control as a personality or trait variable and has been concerned with the development and validation of scales to measure it. Linking these two traditions would help determine if people differentially react to control-enhancing manipulations because of control predispositions. This study reports on an investigation into this topic. A sample of 209 subjects responded to the Levenson I-E scale and a control-enhancing manipulation (vs placebo contact and no contact control samples) within the context of a longitudinal assessment of stress and mental health in older adults. Variables assessed included personal mastery and mental health. The results showed significant interactions of the trait and manipulated variables. Control enhancement was most effective for those high in control beliefs. Some positive benefits of the placebo contact also were found. Subjects low in control beliefs did not respond strongly to control manipulations, while those high in control did. Directions for additional research are discussed.
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