The higher a child’s family income, the more likely he or she is to feel a sense of control over their life, and may play a major role in their development, a new study reveals.
In the study, sociologists examined which measures of socioeconomic status — parents’ education, family income, race and parents’ occupation — have the greatest influence over a child’s locus of control and why.
Locus of control describes the degree to which people feel control over their lives.
The results showed that kids with higher socioeconomic status were more likely to have an internal locus of control, in large part because their parents discuss school more often with them.
These kids’ homes are likely to have more books and other resources, they receive higher grades, they are more likely to attend a private school, their friends are more academically oriented, and they feel safer at school.
“We know income shapes the way people parent, shapes the peers that kids have, shapes the schools they attend,” said Dara Shifrer, Professor at the Portland State University in the US.
“It’s not just kids’ perception — their lives are a little bit more out of control when they’re poor,” Shifrer added.
For the study, published in the journal Society and Mental Health, the team included 16,450 eighth graders in the US.
The new study builds upon previous research which showed that kids who feel more control experience better academic, health and even occupational outcomes.
The findings underscore how the kids who most need this psychological resource may be the least likely to experience it.