Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology



First Advisor

Sara Haden

Committee Chair and Members

Sara Haden, Chair

Nicholas Papouchis

Matthew Morrison


DBT, Dialectical behavior therapy, Locus of control, Secondary control, Sexism


Endorsing an external locus of control, the belief that luck, chance, and/or powerful others determine the outcomes of one’s behaviors, leads to myriad negative outcomes. Young women in the United States have been increasingly endorsing external loci, increasing their risk for psychopathology. Experiencing sexism, an unfortunately persistent stressor, notably decreases women’s sense of agency. There therefore is a clear need to identify means by which women can more effectively cope with sexism and the external locus that often follows. Secondary control (SC), a construct whereby people accept their circumstances and adjust their behavior to fit in with their environments, has helped the externally oriented cope with stress and women cope with sexism. SC was therefore proposed as a skillset that could help women cope with sexism and their external loci. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was proposed to explain why SC could prove helpful. The treatment helps people cope with chronic invalidation by teaching them to accept their circumstances and adjust themselves. This study hypothesized that a DBT skills variable (e.g., mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and empathy) would fit a sample of young adult women in the U.S. It was also hypothesized that, if externally oriented women practiced SC, they would subsequently practice DBT skills and better cope with sexism and their external loci. The current study could not determine that these variables helped women cope. It instead highlighted how sexism both increased endorsement of an external locus and decreased use of DBT skills, further demonstrating sexism’s destructive effects.