Faculty Mentor

Dr. Kayleen Islam-Zwart

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2022




Locus of control (LOC) refers to an individual’s perception of having authority over outcomes and is measured using the Internal Control Index (ICI; Duttweiler, 1984). Lower scores on the scale indicate an externalized LOC, suggesting an individual believes outcomes are outside of one’s control. Externalized LOC scores are associated with adverse symptomology related to PTSD, including higher levels of trauma reactions, disorganization, avoidance, and depressive symptoms (Măirean, 2019; Melon et al., 2009; Roazzi et al., 2016). However, internalized LOC has been shown in prior studies to be a resilient factor for developing PTSD symptoms. (Assberg & Renk, 2014; Fontao & Ross, 2021; Zhang et al., 2014). The purpose of the current study was to investigate the relationship between endorsement of PTSD symptoms with a history of trauma and LOC. It was predicted that individuals exhibiting an externalized LOC would show more PTSD symptoms than those with more internalized LOCs. Participants consisted of 73 females incarcerated in the minimum-security unit of a women’s prison. Participants completed a demographic and clinical interview and a packet of questionnaires including the ICI. Results show that women reporting having experienced or witnessed an event in which they thought they or another person might be physically hurt or killed exhibit lower internal LOC scores than individuals with a trauma history. Interestingly, overall and specific endorsement of PTSD symptoms did not appear to be related to trauma history.