Parent and Peer Influences Mediating the Association between Adolescents’ Socioeconomic Status and Locus of Control

Dara R. Shifrer, University of Texas at Austin

People who feel more external control attribute their life outcomes to fate or destiny, while those who feel more internal control attribute them to their own effort. Feeling more internal control is associated with a wide range of benefits, but adolescents of low socioeconomic status (SES) adolescents feel less internal control on average. This study uses data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 to determine exactly which aspects of SES are most closely associated with locus of control, and the parental and peer influences that mechanize these associations. I find that family income and parent(s)’ occupations are most closely associated with adolescents’ sense of control. Race is not significant net of other SES components. Socioeconomically disadvantaged adolescents feel less internal control in largest part because they have fewer cognitive resources in their households, parents who engage them in fewer discussions about school, and less academically oriented friends.

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Presented in Poster Session 1