Carnegie Mellon University

Perceived Control


Spheres of Control Scale, Version I (Personal Efficacy and Interpersonal Control Subscales)



Copyright Information

Available in the Public Domain.  The current version of the scale (Version III) is accessible from Dr. Paulhus’ webpage

Primary Reference

1. Paulhus, D. L. (1983). Sphere specific measures of perceived controlJournal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 1253-1265.

2. Paulhus, D. L., & Van Selst, M. (1990). The Spheres of Control Scale: 10 years of research. Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, 11, 1029-1036.


To gauge participants’ perceptions of personal efficacy and interpersonal control

Type of Measure

Modified.  The original measure contained 30 items that comprised 3 subscales that each assessed perceived control in 3 major spheres of life: personal achievement, interpersonal relations, and the socio-political world.

Similar Measures

Ryff Scales of Psychological Well-Being, Environmental Mastery Scale


Using a 6-point rating scale, respondents indicate the extent to which they agree or disagree with a set of 20 self-descriptive statements.  (In the original measure, response options were presented using a 7-point Likert-type format that included a neutral point).


1=I disagree very much, 2=I mainly disagree, 3=I slightly disagree, 4=I slightly agree, 5=I mainly agree, 6=I agree very much

Number of Items


Sample Items

•    I find it easy to play an important part in most group situations (interpersonal control)
•    I can usually achieve what I want when I work hard for it (personal efficacy)


Internal Consistency Reliability: alpha = 0.80 (Paulhus & Van Selst, 1990)

Construct validity of responses to each subscale has been established relative to existing measures. For instance, the interpersonal control subscale correlates significantly with separate indices of social self-efficacy and social competence (Paulhus & Van Selst, 1990).

The initial validation study demonstrated discriminant validity of responses among subscales. For example, varsity athletes who play team sports (e.g., American football) were shown to score significantly higher on the interpersonal control subscale as compared to tennis players for whom personal efficacy was elevated (Paulhus, 1983).


Reversed Items 2, 5, 6, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19

Personal Efficacy:  sum items 1, 4, 6R, 7, 9, 10R, 12R, 13R, 17, 18R

Interpersonal Control:  sum items 2R, 3, 5R, 8, 11, 14R, 15, 16R, 19R, 20