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Locus of Control, Research Paper Example

Pages: 2

Words: 471

Research Paper

Abstract

The paper defines locus of control. Behaviors characteristic of individuals with internal and external locus of control are discussed. The sources of negativity among externals are considered. The paper resolves the mysteries surrounding the meaning of locus of control.

Keywords: locus of control, external, internal, behaviors

Locus of Control

The concept of locus of control was created and hypothesized by Rotter and has become one of the defining personality characteristics (Baum & Singer, 1980). Locus of control is a psychological construct which measures the degree, to which individual perceive they can control their environments (Baum & Singer, 1980). Internal locus of control describes individuals who perceive all rewards being the results of their own behavior (Baum & Singer, 1980). In simpler terms, people with internal locus of control believe that their behaviors depend on and are guided by their own efforts and decisions. Such people can control their lives and take decisions and actions to change their circumstances and to pursue their goals. They do not experience any difficulties when managing their life opportunities and using their chances to succeed in life.

At the opposite pole are those with external locus of control – people, who perceive that rewards are independent of their behavior (Baum & Singer, 1980). Such people rely on circumstances, fate, luck, or other external factors and blame these factors for the changes that occur or do not occur in their lives. Individual behaviors in people with internal locus of control may vary significantly. Generally, these people feel helpless whenever they must take a decision, take a decisive step, or to change something in their lives. Moreover, they consciously refuse to pursue their goals and put less effort in most life activities (Burns, 2000).

As a cluster of personality traits, locus control becomes the source of negative outcomes whenever individuals fail to adjust their personal characteristics to the circumstances and their conditions of life. Externals are characterized by the lack of confidence and competence, the lack of independent decision-making capabilities, and the lack of control over life circumstances. Externals are less achievement-oriented and have fewer chances to make a good career (Burns, 2000). This, however, does not mean that all people with external locus of control will spend their lives in trouble. Very often, externals succeed in adjusting their locus of control to environmental circumstances and lead a self-fulfilling life, while internals, with their orientation on success and control, become anxious, neurotic, and depressed whenever they lack opportunity and efficacy to realize their inner strivings (Burns, 2000). It would be fair to assume that the meaning of locus of control is surrounded by numerous complexities and requires objectivity and professional case-by-case approach.

References

Baum, A. & Singer, J.E. (1980). Applications of personal control. New York: Routledge.

Burns, L.C. (2000). The measurement of locus of control: Assessing more than meets the eye? Journal of Psychology, 134(1), 63-76.

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