Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-12-1975


The Internal-External locus of control construct (Rotter, 1966) has been investigated in a variety of areas. One area that has not received the attention it should is that of psychotherapeutic applications. Until now there has been no research testing the use of therapy with indi­viduals who fall at the extremes of the I-E continuum. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of short-­term group therapy on changing inmates' expectations of locus of control in a prison population.

The sample consisted of 40 male inmates at the Peni­tentiary of New Mexico. All were self-referred and had been placed on a waiting list for psychological treatment. Rotter's (1966) I-E Scale was administered to all inmates on the waiting list for treatment to determine a population mean. The first 20 subjects found to fall .5 standard devi­ation above and below the mean comprised the internal and external samples. These were further divided by randomiza­tion into two internal and two external groups of ten mem­bers each. The pretest-posttest control group design (Campbell and Stanley, 1963) was utilized in this study.

One internal and one external group were randomly selected to be exposed to treatment. Treatment consisted of 18 hours of group therapy. The therapeutic orientation was social learning theory as espoused by Rotter (1966, 1972). Control group members were not made aware that they were involved in a study.

All subjects were pre- and posttested with the I-E Scale. Gain score means between pre- and posttesting were used for data analysis. Four one-way analyses of covariance were computed to test four null hypotheses. The .05 level of significance was used in rejecting the hypotheses.

One F ratio was found to be significant at the .05 level. The rejected hypothesis compared the difference in change scores between those receiving therapy and those not receiving therapy. It was apparent from the overall signif­icant result that short-term group psychotherapy can be effective in changing locus of control orientation. Although the other hypotheses failed to be rejected, there did appear to be a trend in the direction of greater change being manifested by the external group exposed to treatment.

Document Type


Level of Degree


First Committee Member (Chair)

William Robert Fishburn

Second Committee Member

Wayne Rowan Maes

Third Committee Member

Lewis Aloysius Dahmen