What do you think, do you control your destiny or are you controlled by it? Well, how often you find yourself blaming your luck or fate for any unfortunate happening? Or maybe how often do you take responsibility for your actions? This analysis gauges your locus of control orientation and your attributes.
Locus of control (Rotter 1966) refers to an individual’s beliefs about the extent of control that they have over things that happen to them. Our locus of control can have a major impact on our lives, from how we cope with stress to the motivation to take charge of our life. If one believes that they have control over the happening in their lives, then they have what psychologists refer to as an internal locus of control. While, if somebody believes that they have no control over what happens and that external variables are to blame, then they have what is known as an external locus of control.
No one has a 100 % external or internal locus of control, rather it is a spectrum. All of us lie somewhere on the continuum between the two extremes. Experts have researched to claim that, in general, people with an internal locus of control tend to be better off. However, it is also important to remember that internal locus does not always equal “good” and external does not equal “bad.”
Internal vs. External
It’s important to understand that both types are self-fulfilling. If we think our fate is in the hands of others, we tend to act to confirm that belief. Similarly, if we begin to think that our fate is under our control we engage in acts to confirm that belief.
Locus of control is viewed as an inborn personality component. There are pieces of evidence to prove that it is shaped by childhood experiences—including children’s interactions with their parents. Children raised by parents who encouraged their independence and helped them learn the connection between actions and their consequences tended to have a well-developed internal locus of control.
Studies show that the mothers with internal LOC lean more towards a hands-on approach to parenting. The child is more exposed to stimulating activities both inside and outside the home. This helps enrich both cognitive and non-cognitive skills in the growing mind. It helps the kid perform at sports, achieve in school, and choose to make long-term physical and psychological health decisions.
If you wonder why all the emphasis on the internal LOC, it is so since the tendency to attribute both failure and success to one’s actions gives them a reason to review their actions. This helps in identifying the flaws within and take necessary actions and eventually get better. However, the virtue of internal LOC can be not a good trait pattern for several reasons. For starters, this very self-review can backfire. These people strive hard to allow no room for errors. While there are situations or tasks with others involved, these people drive them towards perfectionism. This leads others to perceive them as unreasonable.
What is it about Locus of Control?
Relatively, LOC is a stable and enduring aspect of a personality. It is so stable initially, that we take it for granted, ie., we are so unaware of the ways our LOC color away from our minds. However, LOC can change. But the change is slow and spread over years.
Children in their initial years, tend to externalize their behavior which completely depends upon the child’s mental health and parenting practices. It is true that the child’s temperament and the parent beliefs directly relates the use of specific parenting practice. Therefore, while attempting to prevent the child’s externalizing acts, targeting different aspects of parental beliefs should depend upon the child’s temperament.
As we grow up, our competencies improve and so does our ability to influence events in our everyday lives. During this time, our locus of control undergoes intense changes. Only under the influence of the educational environment of the family and school, the young ones learn to take responsibility for their actions.
Have you watched any interviews after a football match or a basketball match? If not, surf through any random interview of these sports, and observe the player’s talk. They never usually talk about external circumstances. You hardly would hear, “I missed that goal because the sun was in my eyes” or, “I couldn’t dodge the ball through, because the floor was slippery”.
Individuals with an internal locus of control (LOC) tend to invest more in their future than those individuals with external LOC. The idea being, those with internal LOC believe that the return of the investment is guaranteed if they invest.
Finding the balance
This is not to rule out the virtue of external LOC. When anything goes wrong, people with external LOC, be quicker to accept it and move on. They are able to effortlessly let go because they don’t believe they could have influenced the outcome.
On the other hand, the more external their locus of control tends to be, the more anxious or depressed a person is, and a greater external locus of control is associated with a greater vulnerability to physical illness. To support this thought, researchers lately suggest that those with a higher internal Locus are less prone to depression, cope better from stress, and are more satisfied in the job.
However, there is no right or wrong way to be. LOC is something we can control to a certain degree, depending on the situation. Of course, it takes conscious efforts. But if we are able to sharpen our rational thinking skills, we can deal with circumstances better by ascertaining the influence we can have based on our thoughts.
Identifying and accepting the cause of events are the aims of balancing our LOC. It is important to pause for a moment and slap yourself some reality before we listen to our initial thoughts. The process may seem unnatural. It definitely takes practice and perseverance to make a part of our system.