Defining and Measuring Harmony Control

Beth Morling, Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


This study proposes a new control construct, harmony control (HC), inspired by a reanalysis of Rothbaum, Weisz, and Snyder's (1982) primary and secondary control constructs. Traditional primary control, and its supporting construct secondary control, affirm the Western cultural emphasis on an agentic self that separates positively from others. Harmony control reflects an interdependent self-concept. In HC, people are flexible and adjusting, and they recognize the agency that resides in spiritual and social forces. Guided by culturally informed views of the interdependent self and previously defined categories of secondary control, the present research develops an individual difference measure of HC framed independently of traditional primary and secondary control. Results from over 2300 community and student participants show that the scale meets traditional psychometric standards for reliability and predictive validity. As predicted, HC correlates with interdependence and collectivism and is orthogonal to two measures of traditional primary control. HC is uncorrelated with self-esteem, suggesting that harmony control may not engage self-efficacy because the social context is more in focus than the self. Women and Hispanics, two groups for whom role requirements and cultural background emphasize interdependence and harmony, score higher than men and Anglos, respectively. In a laboratory study, people higher in HC were more likely to transfer decision power to another person or to chance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-414
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • General Psychology


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