Date of Award

Spring 1997

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Victor Benassi


The present dissertation examines the well-established research paradigm known as the illusion of control. Until now, researchers have employed one basic paradigm which has addressed the illusion of control as a unidimensional phenomenon. In Study 1, 91 female undergraduates were presented with three induction conditions used by previous researchers. Factor analyses showed that judgments from these tasks did not tap into a single process, but rather fell into two types of illusory judgments--belief- and contingency-based. In Study 2, 182 female undergraduates were exposed to the same three induction conditions used in Study 1 plus two additional contingency tasks. As in Study 1, the results from factor analyses demonstrated a multidimensional factor structure in which contingency judgments were differentiated from performance judgments. In addition, judgments based on time-line contingency tasks loaded separately from contingency judgments from the key and light task. Study 2 identified two groups of behavior. Participants' self-reported likelihood of voting in the 1996 presidential election and frequency of prayer were labeled as control-based behavior. Frequency of reading published horoscopes and giving higher validity rating to them were labeled as belief-based behavior. The results showed that the different illusion factors interacted differentially with desire for control and level of belief in the paranormal when predicting belief-based and control-based behavior. Judgment type also interacted differentially with desire for control and paranormal belief when predicting reports of overall happiness. Finally, methodological implications for future research were discussed.