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Causal modeling was used to examine the effects of educational program, age, belief in internal locus of control, belief in control by chance, belief in control by powerful others, and the influence of exercise of self-care agency on self-care orientation to nursing. The relationship between self-care orientation and nursing systems orientation was also investigated. The causal model was developed by using a sample of 77 nursing students from a National League for Nursing (NLN) accredited baccalaureate degree nursing program and tested by using a sample of 297 nursing students, from NLN accredited degree and baccalaureate degree nursing programs. The nursing students completed 4 instruments, the self-care orientation scale and nursing systems scale, both developed by the investigator; the exercise of self-care agency scale, developed by Kearney and Fleischer; and the internal control, powerful others control, and chance control scales developed by Levenson. Item-total correlations, coefficient alpha, and a factor analysis were done on all 4 scales. Test/retest reliability for the self-care orientation and nursing systems scale were computed by using the nursing students of 1 school. The tested model developed from theory created better insights into the relationship of variables effecting self-care orientation than did the respecified model developed from stepwise regression. For the tested model there was a decomposition of the variables into the direct and indirect effects. To explain self-care orientation the educational program had the most significant effect followed by self-care agency and the belief that powerful others are not in control. Educational program, internal locus of control, and chance control, had a significant effect on self-care agency. There was a positive relationship between self-care orientation and nursing systems orientation. The self-care orientation scale and the nursing systems scale developed by the investigator had an acceptable degree of validity and reliability. It was concluded that causal modeling is a technique that may be used to create better insights into the relationship of variables of interest to nursing researchers. The next steps in research should be to: (a)add measure of nursing practice experience; (b)manipulate some variables to determine adequacy of the model, and (c)continue development of the instruments.