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Using locus of control to predict perceptual speed in older adults
Sydney R. Griffin, Jessica L. Bradshaw, Sarah M. Junkins, Laura A. Whitlock, Anne Collins McLaughlin
North Carolina State University
➢ Perceptual speed is important for daily
function (Cavanaugh & Blanchard, 2011).
➢ Intellectual abilities such as perceptual
speed decline during adulthood and old
age (Ghisletta & Lindenberger, 2003)
➢ Personal control beliefs are related to
cognitive function at older ages
(Lachman & Agrigoroaei, 2012).
➢ Higher perceived control beliefs tend to
correspond with higher levels of cognitive
functioning (Windsor & Anstey, 2008).
➢ Multitasking locus of control was measured using
the sense of control questionnaire from Lachman
et al. 1998 and adapted to focus on multitasking.
Participants were asked to rate whether they
agreed or disagreed with statements about their
perceived control over multitasking using a 6point Likert scale (0=strongly agree to 6=strongly
➢ Participant’s multitasking locus of control was
found by averaging their responses to the MLOC
questionnaire. Lower scores indicated low sense
of control, while higher scores indicated high
sense of control.
➢ Examine the relationship
between multitasking locus of
control and perceptual speed at
older ages
➢ Future research should try to
experimentally change a person's
MLOC to see if it also changes
their perceptual speed.
➢ Examples:
• Pre and post test experimental
design involving an intervention
where participants are educated on
internal and external locus of
• Pre and post test experimental
design involving an intervention
with techniques on how to improve
The following are examples of statements adapted
and used on the questionnaire for multitasking
locus of control:
1) There’s no way I can get better at multitasking.
2) How well I multi-task is often beyond my control.
3) I often feel helpless when faced with having to
do more than one thing at a time.
The sample consisted of 49 older
adults living in independent homes or
independent Senior Living Centers
 Mean age of 77.54 (SD= 8.39;
range= 66-91)
Data Collection
➢ Data was collected through a
series of tests given as part of a
pilot study for playing a cognitive
maintenance video game.
 This research was supported by a grant (NSF-0905127)
from the National Science Foundation to Anne
McLaughlin and Jason Allaire.
Cavanaugh, J., & Blanchard-Fields, F. (2011). Intelligence.
Adult development and aging (p. 241-242).
Wadesworth:Cengage Learning.
Ghisletta, P., & Lindenberger, U. (2003). Age-based
structural dynamics between perceptual speed
knowledge in the Berlin Aging Study: Direct
evidence for ability dedifferentiation in old age.
Psychology And Aging,
18(4), 696-713.
Lachman, M. E., & Agrigoroaei, S. (2012). Low perceived
control as a risk factor for episodic memory: The
mediational role of anxiety and task interference.
Memory & Cognition, 40(2), 287-296.
Windsor, T. D, & Anstey, K. J. (2008). A longitudinal
investigation of perceived control and cognitive
performance in young, midlife and older adults.
Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition: A Journal
on Normal and Dysfunctional Development, 15(6),
744-763. Manual. New York:Psychological
Wechsler, D. ( 1981). Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
➢ The Digit Symbol Substitution
Test was used to measure
perceptual speed (Weschler,
Figure 1. MLOC predicting perceptual speed
➢ Perceptual speed score was
extracted from the total number of
items attempted in a set time
minus the number of entry errors
for the digit symbol substitution
The scatter plot shows a positive
relationship between multitasking locus of
control and perceptual speed (p < .01, R2=
0.137). This means those with a higher
sense of multitasking control also scored
higher on a test of perceptual speed.
LACElab at
North Carolina
State University