Desirability of Control Scale


The desire for control is a general personality trait, relevant to many behaviors studied by both social and clinical psychologists.  Much research and theory suggests that an increase in perceived control is preferred and will result in positive reactions, whereas a decrease in control is not desired and will result in negative reactions. The Desirability of Control Scale is a measure of this desire to control personal scenarios.


The scale was found to have substantial internal consistency (.80), and test-retest reliability (.75), as well as discriminant validity from measures of locus of control (Rotter, 1966), and social desirability (Crowne & Marlowe, 1960). Construction validation was also accounted for.

Author of Tool:

Burger, Jerry.

Key references:

Burger, J. M., & Cooper, H. M.  (1979).  The desirability of control.  Motivation and Emotion, 3, 381‑393.

Primary use / Purpose:

This scale measures individual differences in the general level of motivation to control the events in one’s life.

Desirability of Control Scale

Below you will find a series of statements. Please read each statement carefully and respond to it by expressing the extent to which you believe the statement applies to you. For all items, a response from 1 to 7 is required. Use the number that best reflects your belief when the scale is defined as follows:

  • 1 = The statement does not apply to me at all
  • 2 = The statement usually does not apply to me
  • 3 = Most often, the statement does not apply
  • 4 = I am unsure about whether or not the statement applies to me, or it applies to me about half the time
  • 5 = The statement applies more often than not
  • 6 = The statement usually applies to me
  • 7 = The statement always applies to me


  • 1. I prefer a job where I have a lot of control over what I do and when I do it.
  • 2. I enjoy political participation because I want to have as much of a say in running government as possible.
  • 3. I try to avoid situations where someone else tells me what to do.
  • 4. I would prefer to be a leader than a follower.
  • 5. I enjoy being able to influence the actions of others.
  • 6. I am careful to check everything on an automobile before I leave for a long trip.
  • 7. Others usually know what is best for me.
    8. I enjoy making my own decisions.
  • 9. I enjoy having control over my own destiny.
  • 10. I would rather someone else take over the leadership role when I’m involved in a group project.
  • 11. I consider myself to be generally more capable of handling situations than others are.
  • 12. I’d rather run my own business and make my own mistakes than listen to someone else’s orders.
  • 13. I like to get a good idea of what a job is all about before I begin.
  • 14. When I see a problem, I prefer to do something about it rather than sit by and let it continue.
  • 15. When it comes to orders, I would rather give them than receive them.
  • 16. I wish I could push many of life’s daily decisions off on someone else.
  • 17. When driving, I try to avoid putting myself in a situation where I could be hurt by another person’s mistake.
  • 18. I prefer to avoid situations where someone else has to tell me what it is I should be doing.
  • 19. There are many situations in which I would prefer only one choice rather than having to make a decision.
  • 20. I like to wait and see if someone else is going to solve a problem so that I don’t have to be bothered with it.