The Mediating Role of Perceived Control and Desire for Control in the Relationship between Personality and Depressive Symptomology

Liam Alexander MacKenzie Myles, Jason Connolly, Natalia Stanulewicz


Introduction: Depression constitutes a fundamental problem for society and understanding its aetiology is of unequivocal importance. Seminal theories implicated low perceived control, low desire for control and variations in personality factors in the manifestation of depression. This study, however, is the first to examine the mediating roles of both desire for control and perceived control in the relationship between personality and depressive symptomology.

Methods: A sample of 350 participants, ranging from 18 to 67 years of age (M = 22.8, SD = 9.0), were recruited through Durham University’s social media pages. Participants completed the Revised NEO Personality Inventory, the Spheres of Control Scale, the Desire for Control Scale and Beck’s Depression Inventory.

Results: Path analysis using Maximum-Likelihood Method indicated that desire for control and perceived control serially mediated the effect of extraversion, conscientiousness and agreeableness on depressive symptomology, with only neuroticism maintaining a direct effect. Extraversion and conscientiousness increased desire for control, whereas agreeableness diminished desire for control. Greater desire for control subsequently elevated perceived control, manifesting reductions in depressive symptomology.

Discussion: This study provides novel evidence that desire for control and perceived control mediate the relationship between personality and depressive symptoms. The clinical implications are discussed, evaluating the potential efficacy of therapies that bolster desire for control.


Depressive symptomology; Perceived control; Desire for control; Personality.

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