This article is about Locus of control. In personality psychology, locus of control is the degree to the specificity of the preschool development people believe that they have control over the outcome of events in their lives, as opposed to external forces beyond their control. Understanding of the concept was developed by Julian B. Rotter in 1954, and has since become an aspect of personality studies.
Individuals with a strong internal locus of control believe events in their life derive primarily from their own actions: for example, when receiving exam results, people with an internal locus of control tend to praise or blame themselves and their abilities. People with a strong external locus of control tend to praise or blame external factors such as the teacher or the exam. Locus of control generated much research in a variety of areas in psychology. The construct is applicable to such fields as educational psychology, health psychology and clinical psychology. Lefcourt defined the perceived locus of control: “a generalised expectancy for internal as opposed to external control of reinforcements”. Additional research led to the hypothesis that typical expectancy shifts were displayed more often by those who attributed their outcomes to ability, whereas those who displayed atypical expectancy were more likely to attribute their outcomes to chance. Internals tend to attribute outcomes of events to their own control.
People who have internal locus of control believe that the outcomes of their actions are results of their own abilities. Internals believe that their hard work would lead them to obtain positive outcomes. This was the basis of the locus-of-control scale proposed by Rotter in 1966, although it was based on Rotter’s belief that locus of control is a single construct. Regarding locus of control, there is another type of control that entails a mix among the internal and external types.
People that have the combination of the two types of locus of control are often referred to as Bi-locals. People that have Bi-local characteristics are known to handle stress and cope with their diseases more efficiently by having the mixture of internal and external locus of control. 23-item scale for children predates Rotter’s work. Many measures of locus of control have appeared since Rotter’s scale. Lyn Yvonne Abramson, Martin Seligman and John D.
Significant to the history of both approaches are the contributions made by Bernard Weiner in the 1970s. Before this time, attribution theorists and locus of control theorists had been largely concerned with divisions into external and internal loci of causality. Locus of control’s best known application may have been in the area of health psychology, largely due to the work of Kenneth Wallston. Scales to measure locus of control in the health domain were reviewed by Furnham and Steele in 1993. The best-known are the Health Locus of Control Scale and the Multidimensional Health Locus of Control Scale, or MHLC. Similar ambiguity has been found in studies of alcohol consumption in the general, non-alcoholic population. They argue that a stronger relationship is found when health locus of control is assessed for specific domains than when general measures are taken.