Date of Award:

1980

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Michael Bertoch

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Keith Checketts

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the thesis that matching locus of control with therapeutic treatment enhances behavior change. This idea was tested by comparing the effectiveness of a structured. and an unstructured. home practice of relaxation for internal and external locus of control subjects. It was expected that internal locus of control subjects would respond better to the unstructured. training method and external locus of control subjects would respond better to the structured technique.

The subjects were 80 undergraduate college students. Forty internal locus of control students and 40 external locus of control students, with the highest degree of anxiety as measured by the State Trait Anxiety Inventory A-trait scale, were selected as subjects and randomly assigned to either a structured or an unstructured relaxation training. The relaxation training consisted of five weekly laboratory relaxation training sessions and daily home practice. The home practice involved either a structured procedure in which subjects were instructed to listen to a prerecorded relaxation tape or an unstructured procedure in which subjects were encouraged to develop their own strategies for relaxation. The effectiveness of the relaxation training was measured by five dependent variables: EMG, skin temperature, State Trait Anxiety Inventory (A-state and A-trait scales), and number of reported home practice sessions. The data was analyzed by using analyses of variance with repeated measures.

The expected interaction between locus of control and the structure of treatment was not found in this study. Although the relaxation training was effective in reducing physiological and subjective anxiety, the matching of locus of control with a structured or an unstructured home practice of relaxation did not significantly improve the acquisition of the relaxation training. The idea that relaxation training is too readily an acquired response to use in comparing differential effectiveness is discussed. It is recommended that future research examine the interaction between locus of control and the structure of relaxation training with a clinical population. It is also recommended that future research verify with a clinical population the finding in this study that there is no practical difference between taped and individualized home practice of relaxation training.

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