Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

William G. Kirk


Gestalt therapy theory considers speech to be a reflection of one's personality, and consequently psychological adjustment or maladjustment is expected to be manifested in one's speech habits (Levitsky & Perls, 1970; Passons, 1975). The use of personal pronouns is an indicator of the psychological distance taken from one's own feelings and actions. Healthy speech, or speech that is integrated with one's feelings and actions, involves the use of the first person singular when referring to self. Working with people to change speech patterns (changing "it-statements" and "you-statements" to "I-statements") may help an individual integrate his speech with his feelings and actions and to assume responsibility for them. If this is true, people who frequently use "I-statements" would tend to assume responsibility for their actions more than people who do not use "I-statements" as frequently.

The literature concerning locus of control indicates that internally controlled individuals demonstrate a greater tendency to accept responsibility for their behaviors (Davis & Davis, 1972; Krovetz, 1974; Phares, Wilson, & Klyver, 1971) and are better psychologically adjusted (Phares, 1976) than externally controlled individuals. Consequently, if use of "I-statements" demonstrates a tendency to assume responsibility for one's behavior and indicates better psychological adjustment, internally controlled individuals would be expected to use "I-statements" more frequently than externally controlled individuals.

The present study investigated the relationship between internal locus of control and the use of "I-statements." The hypothesis of this study stated that there is a positive correlation between internal locus of control and the use of "I-statements." Fifty-nine graduate and undergraduate students from Charleston, Illinois and Columbus, Ohio were administered the Rotter Internal-External Locus of Control Scale. To elicit representational personal/social, academic, and family information the subjects were then interviewed by a trained interviewer on these three topic areas. There were a total of twelve questions--four questions on each of the three topic areas. Each topic area included two positive questions and two negative questions. The percentage of "I-statements" used by each subject in response to each question was then computed. The Pearson product-moment coefficient of correlation (r = .10, p = n.s.) and the Spearman rho coefficient (Rho = .04, p = n.s.) computed for this study were non-significant, indicating no significant correlation between internal locus of control and use of "I-statements." Implications and limitations of the study were discussed.