This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Investigation of Coping Skills, Locus of Control, and Quality of Life in Young Adults with Learning Disabilities




Cooper, Amy

Type of Degree





Research in the field of learning disabilities (LD) has traditionally emphasized the deficits associated with the diagnosis. Recent research efforts demonstrate a shift towards a more positive approach in an effort to learn more about factors that may contribute to competence and long-term success for individuals with LD. The present study utilized objective, standardized measures to assess self-reported coping strategies, locus of control, and life satisfaction in a sample of young non-college attending adults with and without LD. Participants also rated their perceptions of their own success. Thirteen young adults (ages 19-25 years) who had been diagnosed previously with an LD were matched with thirteen controls without LD. All participants had completed high school or obtained a High School Equivalency Diploma. Contrary to hypotheses, participants with and without LD did not differ significantly on locus of control, overall life satisfaction, coping skills, or self-reported success. In addition, no differences between the two groups were found in self-reported success. Participants in both groups reported higher scores on the Adult Nowicki-Strickland Internal-External Locus of Control Scale (ANSIE) than are typically described in the general literature. Scores for participants with and without LD fell in the “average” range of life satisfaction on the Quality of Life Inventory (QOLI). Some evidence for a relationship between external locus of control and maladaptive coping strategies for all participants was found. Scores on the Mental Disengagement scale of the Coping Orientation to Problem Experience (COPE) Inventory correlated positively with locus of control as measured by the ANSIE. In addition, significant negative correlations were found for the Health, Self-Esteem, Money, Neighborhood, and Community weighted satisfaction scores on the QOLI. Participants with LD reported being more satisfied with their goals and values and the helping that they do on the QOLI than the participants without LD, although there were no differences between groups on how important they rated these areas to their overall happiness. These findings are discussed in relation to previous research involving young adults with LD and implications for future research are presented.