Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Fredda Blanchard-Fields


The present study investigated contemporary and traditional theoretical models of controllability and their relation to outcomes such as depression and well-being among institutionalized older adults. Participants included 70 nursing home residents screened for absence of substantial cognitive impairment. They were administered measures of physical disability, symptoms of aging, depression, and well-being. Further, in addition to a traditional, global measure of locus of control, subjects were interviewed regarding their perceptions of control in four domains of living: meals, activities, privacy, and schedule, in order to assess the constructs proposed by the contemporary two-process model of control. Results affirmed the hypothesis that the contemporary two-process model of perceived control better explains the relation between control and adjustment among this group of older individuals. This finding not only provides empirical support for the further dimensionalization of internality proposed by the two-process theorists, but also lends credence to arguments for the use of domain-specific measurement instruments and techniques. Further, domain-specific control strategies including direct action (i.e., primary control), cognitive reappraisal (i.e., secondary control), and relinquished control themselves differentially predicted outcomes and were differentially employed by subjects overall and within different domains of living. Secondary internal control, involving covert emotion-management, was employed most often by older adults in this sample. Finally, subject characteristics such as physical disability and symptoms of aging were associated with control perceptions as well. Implications for future descriptive and intervention research in the area of control and aging were discussed.