In 1954, Julian B. Rotter created the personality psychology theory of Locus of control. This concept referred to the extent individuals believes they can control their life circumstances. The term “locus” is derived from the Latin word for “place”.
As with many of our discussions about either/or concepts, one’s internal locus of control is not absolute. Some may adopt an internal locus of control for some situations and an external locus of control
If one has an “internal locus of control”, that person believes that they have the ability to control their lives since their life events are a direct result of their behaviors and actions.
If one has an “external locus of control”, that person believes that the causes of their life circumstances are a result of external factors such as other the actions of others, the environment, luck, fate, or a higher power.
Some reported benefits of an internal locus of control include better control of one’s behavior, more attempts to influence other’s behavior, assumption that actions will be successful, and actively seeking information (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locus_of_control). According to About.com, (http://stress.about.com/od/psychologicalconditions/ht/locus.htm) research has shown that those with an internal locus of control-tend to be happier, less depressed, and less stressed.
I feel that it is reasonable to extrapolate that people with a greater internal locus of control will assume more responsibility for their beliefs, thoughts feelings and actions. I feel that it is very important for someone with a strong internal locus of control to adopt an appreciative view of the world and commit to positive self talk. If we believe that we are responsible, do poorly on a task and then deride ourselves on the outcome of the task, we would surely be depressed.
There are also some benefits of an external locus of control. For example, if there were a situation that you cannot control directly, it would be beneficial to emotionally “let go” of the situation and “give it up to fate”. For example, we working on an academic paper it is valuable to adopt and internal locus of control of all the steps that you need to perform in the data collection and writing process. Since you cannot control the results of your experiment, you need to let go of your exceptions. It is also beneficial to “let go” when you send the article for peer review since you cannot control the opinion of others.
There are many tests of “Locus of Control” online. Psychology Today has such a test at http://psychologytoday.tests.psychtests.com/take_test.php?idRegTest=1317
Like most things, one’s “Locus of Control” is not black and white. There are times where we feel we have a much greater control of our destiny and other times where we may feel blown around by the winds of fate.
It is my belief that it is best to have a strong internal locus of control for all of those elements that can only be controlled by ourselves including thoughts, habits, beliefs, actions, attitudes and chosen responses to our life events. There are many elements of life, from the weather to the stock market, that we can not control. However, we can do our best to own our responses to our outlook on life as well as our responses to live events.