The Relationship of Locus-of-Control and Remembered Stress to Creativity as a Cognitive Process

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William E. Goggin

Advisor Department



The study was designed to measure the relationship of remembered stress and locus of control to creativity as a cognitive process. It discussed several elements, among them personality and motivational and cognitive factors that help to produce effective strategies for coping with environmental stress, and contended that one of the elements is creativity, defined as a cognitive process also known as divergent thinking. The study examined the idea that an internal locus of control may make it possible for some children to cope more positively (i.e., more creatively) with a stressful environment. It was hypothesized that a relationship may exist between environmental stress and creativity in individuals who have a greater sense of predictability and mastery over their environment. The study, therefore, tested the hypothesis that a remembered history of childhood stress and an internal locus of control may be related to creativity as a cognitive process. Subjects consisted of 92 undergraduates from three undergraduate colleges (Education and Psychology, Honors, and Liberal Arts) at the University of Southern Mississippi. Remembered stress on a 60-item Likert-style scale was used to establish high or low stress (based on a median split of the data) and locus of control scores on the Rotter Internal-External Locus of Control Scale functioned as the grouping variables. Creativity was operationally defined in terms of creative process as measured by the Stroop Color and Word Test, and by use of a figural battery from the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. A 2 x 2 ANOVA was performed on the data. Results were inconclusive and indicated problems with high variability among the class groups. Differences among the class groups were therefore examined and reported, in addition to weaknesses in the method and problems with the instruments.