June 29, 2015 – Primary or Secondary Control


Anchor lead: Control comes in two forms, and impacts your mental health, Elizabeth Tracey reports

If you have the ability to directly change a situation, that’s primary control.  If you can change how you respond to a situation, that’s secondary control.  Now research by Erik Helzer, a behavior expert at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, shows that for most, secondary control has a bigger impact on life satisfaction, with many organizations taking note.

Helzer: There’s an uptick in the number of organizations that are teaching for example, mindfulness interventions, or that are doing stress reduction kinds of interventions.  I think one of the ways that these strategies are successful is in increasing people’s mental flexibility to appraise situations, to learn from them, to not just react and want to change them immediately, and all of those things fall under that broad umbrella I think of secondary control.   :26

Helzer says both types of control matter, and cultivating the ability to both make decisions and set goals, and be flexible when roadblocks appear, are important life skills.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.