Control has emerged as an important psychological variable. The purpose of this project was to extend the concept of environmental control to the homeless shelter environment. Data from interviews conducted with residents of a homeless shelter supported the hypothesis that perceived loss of control over the shelter environment would be positively related to giving up on finding a home and employment. The hypothesis that the helplessness created by low control environments is consistent with the external, stable attributional style of “universal” helplessness was partially supported. Suggestions for future research are provided. Changes in the shelter environment are recommended for the treatment of helplessness in the homeless though helplessness is expected to persist as long as poverty, expensive housing, and prejudice against the homeless make efforts and outcomes noncontingent.



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