Title

Being in a State of Control: How Internalization of Stressful Situations Relates to Anxiety

Presenter Information

William CrabtreeFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Psychology-Sociology

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. Marie Karlsson, PhD.

Presentation Format

Event

Abstract/Description

Previous research has shown that internalization of locus of control is negatively correlated with an individual’s perceived anxiety (Gallagher, Barlow, & Bentley, 2014). Internalized locus of control has also been shown to be negatively correlated with stressful life events and situations (Ryan & Gleason, 2013). Newer research has suggested that locus of control could be state-dependent, changing with more stressful life events (Nowicki, Ellis, Iles-Caven, Gregory, & Golding, 2018). The current study builds on that research and consists of two parts. In part 1, participants completed online surveys measuring levels of stress, anxiety, social anxiety, and locus of control. In part 2, participants complete the Trier Social Stress Test (Kudielka, Hellhammer, & Kirschbaum, 2007) in a lab setting. Throughout the stress task, participants are asked to report their levels of stress, anxiety, and locus of control. Hypothesis 1 is that participants' locus of control will become more externalized after the stress task (T5) compared to baseline (T2). Hypothesis 2 is that participants will report an increase in anxiety as their locus of control becomes more externalized. Results are from the 51 participants who completed both parts of the study (77% female; 87% White; mean age of 19.08). Locus of control from part 1 (trait measure) was positively correlated with locus of control at T1 (arrival to lab) from part 2 (state measure; ps < .05) but not the other time points (T3-5; ps > .10). The change from T2 to T5 in locus of control was positively correlated with changes in anxiety and stress during the lab based stress test suggesting that as participants’ anxiety and stress increased, their locus of control became more externalized (ps < .05). This pattern was the same for participants with more internalized or externalized locus of control (mean split on the trait measure). These results suggest that locus of control can be changed as a result of a stress task, regardless of levels of trait locus of control. These findings could potentially show that internalizing locus of control in stressful situations may lead to a lower level of anxiety, and further the understanding of psychological states and traits involved with levels of anxiety.

Keywords: Stress, Anxiety, Locus of Control, Stressful

Spring Scholars Week 2019 Event

Brummer Colloquium Series

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Being in a State of Control: How Internalization of Stressful Situations Relates to Anxiety

Previous research has shown that internalization of locus of control is negatively correlated with an individual’s perceived anxiety (Gallagher, Barlow, & Bentley, 2014). Internalized locus of control has also been shown to be negatively correlated with stressful life events and situations (Ryan & Gleason, 2013). Newer research has suggested that locus of control could be state-dependent, changing with more stressful life events (Nowicki, Ellis, Iles-Caven, Gregory, & Golding, 2018). The current study builds on that research and consists of two parts. In part 1, participants completed online surveys measuring levels of stress, anxiety, social anxiety, and locus of control. In part 2, participants complete the Trier Social Stress Test (Kudielka, Hellhammer, & Kirschbaum, 2007) in a lab setting. Throughout the stress task, participants are asked to report their levels of stress, anxiety, and locus of control. Hypothesis 1 is that participants' locus of control will become more externalized after the stress task (T5) compared to baseline (T2). Hypothesis 2 is that participants will report an increase in anxiety as their locus of control becomes more externalized. Results are from the 51 participants who completed both parts of the study (77% female; 87% White; mean age of 19.08). Locus of control from part 1 (trait measure) was positively correlated with locus of control at T1 (arrival to lab) from part 2 (state measure; ps < .05) but not the other time points (T3-5; ps > .10). The change from T2 to T5 in locus of control was positively correlated with changes in anxiety and stress during the lab based stress test suggesting that as participants’ anxiety and stress increased, their locus of control became more externalized (ps < .05). This pattern was the same for participants with more internalized or externalized locus of control (mean split on the trait measure). These results suggest that locus of control can be changed as a result of a stress task, regardless of levels of trait locus of control. These findings could potentially show that internalizing locus of control in stressful situations may lead to a lower level of anxiety, and further the understanding of psychological states and traits involved with levels of anxiety.

Keywords: Stress, Anxiety, Locus of Control, Stressful