child development, locus of control, parenting, health, disabilities, parent-child interactions


A potentially important variable that has received little attention in the disabilities literature is the caregiver's locus of control beliefs for child improvement as they relate to treatment compliance and actual child improvement. To evaluate the construct's utility in a practice setting, 131 caregiver-child dyads were assessed twice, twelve months apart. Children were an average of approximately four years old at the first assessment, and all of them had mild to severe developmental disabilities. Aspects of caregiver compliance to treatment were rated, and measures of child development status, family functioning, and caregiver locus of control were administered. Results indicated that caregivers who emphasized themselves or professionals as the sources of improvement had children who had made better developmental progress over the year. Caregivers who emphasized the child, chance, or divine influence as the primary sources for improvement were perceived as less involved in the child's intervention program by the interventionists.

Original Publication Citation

Smith, T. B., Oliver, M. N. I., Boyce, G. C., & Innocenti, M. (2000). Caregivers' locus of control for child improvement. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 161, 307-313.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Taylor & Francis




David O. McKay School of Education


Counseling Psychology and Special Education

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor