Differential relations of locus of control to perceived social stress among help-seeking adolescents at low vs. high clinical risk of psychosis

Zachary B. Millman, Marc J. Weintraub, Eryn Bentley, Jordan E. DeVylder, Vijay A. Mittal, Steven C. Pitts, Elizabeth Thompson, Caroline Demro, Gloria M. Reeves, Jason Schiffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research suggests that perceived social stress influences illness presentation and course among youth in the clinical high-risk (CHR) phase of psychosis. Little is known, however, about the social cognitive factors associated with social stress perception in this population, particularly relative to youth with non-CHR psychopathology. Individuals with psychosis tend to endorse an external locus of control (LOC), which is associated with the stress response in healthy individuals. LOC may therefore be related to perceived social stress in youth at CHR. We examined the differential relations of self-reported LOC and perceived social stress, as measured by the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition, across 45 CHR and 65 help-seeking control (HSC) participants. Youth at CHR reported more social stress (F[1, 107] = 6.28, p = 0.01) and a more external LOC (F[1, 107] = 4.98, p = 0.03) than HSCs. Further, external LOC was more strongly associated with feelings of social stress in the CHR group relative to the HSC group (interaction: b = 0.35, t[105] = 2.32, p < 0.05, f2 = 0.05). Group differences in social stress, however, were nonsignificant at internal levels of LOC (b = − 2.0, t[105] = − 0.72, p = 0.48; f2 = 0.00). Results suggest that perceptions of uncontrollability over one's social environment may more often induce or exacerbate feelings of stress and tension in CHR youth relative to HSCs. A better understanding of the social cognition-stress relation may improve understanding of CHR phenomenology, etiology, and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-44
Number of pages6
JournalSchizophrenia Research
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Clinical high-risk
  • Locus of control
  • Social cognition
  • Social stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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