chapter  5
Compensatory control theory and the psychological importance of perceiving order
ByBastiaan T. Rutjens, Aaron C. Kay
Pages 14

Control can be defined as the individual’s perceived impact on events and the ability to bring the environment in line with individual wishes and motives. Experiencing a sense of control over life’s outcomes and one’s physical and social environment is considered a basic human need with far-reaching consequences for psychological as well as physical well-being. As a result, lacking desired levels of control has been found to be generally experienced as aversive (e.g., Heckhausen & Schulz, 1995; Langer & Rodin, 1976; Maier & Seligman, 1976; Moulding & Kyrios, 2006; Sedek & Kofta, 1990; Skinner, 1996; Thompson & Spacapan, 1991). Given that perceived control is such an important motivation for adaptive and healthy functioning, an obvious question arises: how do people cope with inevitably fluctuating levels of personal control in their daily lives? Indeed, in the last five years or so we have seen a rapid increase in the amount of research aimed at documenting and explaining the various ways in which people respond to instances of lowered personal control. In this chapter, we review Compensatory Control Theory (CCT; Kay et al., 2008), which was developed to help answer this question, as well as research that is directly or indirectly inspired by its central tenets.