The effects of unemployment on locus of control: A meta-analysis

David Fairburn, Mark Hoelterhoff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Aims and Research Questions: This meta-analysis aims to evaluate current research to conclude whether unemployment leads to changes in locus of control and whether assessment timing and status prior to unemployment moderate this change.

Method: Online databases were searched for studies published between 1954 (which saw Rotter first develop the concept of locus of control) and 2018. Twelve longitudinal studies were sourced that used a validated measure to assess locus of control in either students or among part- or full-time employed and then again among the same group following job loss or the termination of studies.

Results: Random effects modelling pointed towards a small but statistically significant change in locus of control towards greater externality (d = 0.18, 95% CI = 0.09-0.26, p = 0.000, k = 11). Moderator analyses suggested that this change was more significant in students entering unemployment (d = 0.23, 95% CI = 0.09-0.38, p = 0.002, k = 6) than among former employees and that greater change could be observed when a second assessment was made closer to the time of first assessment (d = 0.23, 95% CI = 0.15-0.31, p = 0.000, k = 2).

Conclusions: This meta-analysis concludes that there is a statistically significant change in locus of control following unemployment but that this change might not extend to clinical significance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-29
Number of pages15
JournalPsychreg Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • locus of control
  • unemployment
  • assessment
  • control
  • meta-analysis


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