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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Perceived control is a powerful resource when dealing with stressful life events. Research on perceived control (in all its guises, including locus of control, self-efficacy, causal attributions, confidence, and perceived competence) documents its role in supporting constructive mastery-oriented coping at all points in the lifespan. Likewise, research at every age reveals the vulnerabilities induced by a sense of helplessness and loss of control, and documents their effects in undermining how people deal with difficulties and failures. This chapter uses work on the development of perceived control to help guide the developmental study of coping, examining (1) how mastery-oriented and helpless ways of coping may change in their form across infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age; (2) how the development of perceived control may contribute to qualitative shifts in how coping is organized as people age; and (3) how coping itself may constitute a proximal process that shapes the development of perceived control. Throughout the chapter, a multi-level systems view on the development of coping is highlighted, with a strong emphasis on the role of social partners, relationships, and contexts in shaping both coping and perceived control.

Keywords:  perceived control, self-efficacy, coping, aging, social factors

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