While research suggests that an external locus of control predicts violence among offenders, it is unclear whether an internal locus of control (ILOC) acts as a protective factor against involvement in violent behaviors. Furthermore, we know little about the contextual factors that influence the development of an ILOC. This study analyzes the relationship between ILOC and involvement in violent behaviors, examines contextual influences on the development of an ILOC, and assesses whether contextual influences affect the relationship between locus of control and violence. Data are derived from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, a multi-cohort accelerated longitudinal research study of youth living in 80 Chicago neighborhoods during 1994. Focusing on 1,767 youths aged 9 to 19, results indicate that an ILOC is a significant predictor of abstention from violence, even when controlling for individual characteristics and family and neighborhood contextual factors known to influence violence. Several family and neighborhood contextual factors influence an ILOC orientation. Results also indicate that those who are younger, female, and non-Hispanic are more likely to express an ILOC. Implications of the results are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Applied Psychology