Definition: An individual's sense of where his or her life influences originate--internally or externally.


Idea first came about in 1954 as the framework for Rotter's social learning theory of personality.

Quite Simply...

  • How you interpret your life, is it your fault or someone else's?
  • Internal: Belief that you are the cause of your success and failures; you choose your own destiny.
  • External: Belief that external factors determine what happens around you; everything happens for a reason.
  • choose your own fate.

Examples of Locus of Control

  • Getting a raise at your job and telling yourself it was because you are a good employee (internal) or saying it was because you got lucky that your boss just likes you (external).
  • If you win a basketball game, you'll either assume it was because you practiced (Internal) or because of luck (External).
  • If I get a good grade on a test I can say it was because I studied (Internal) or because my teacher made an easy test (External).
  • I got a detention because my teacher hates me (External). OR I got a detention because I was misbehaving (Internal).
  • A person got into a crash because the pavement was too wet (External), not because he was a bad driver. (Internal)
  • Your favorite football team wins off a hail mary and you assume that it was all because of skill (Internal). Your friends think it was because of luck (External).
  • You become valedictorian and you can either think it's because of the time you spent studying, and your effort (Internal) or you can think it's because there aren't a lot of smart people in your graduating class (External).
  • You get into all of the colleges you appy for, because you're smart (Internal), or the school wanted you to come there because of your race since they col
    lege wants to be more diverse (External).

See Also...

Additional Resources


Practice Questions

1. You scored poorly on your math test final because you never did any of the homework problems nor did you study for any of the tests. You blame your failure on yourself because you did not study as you should have. You are exhibiting a(n) _ locus of control.
A. Essential
B. Natural
C. Internal
D. External
E. Basic

2. You interview for a job at your mother's work and you expect you don't get it because it didn't go well but they call back and tell you you got the job. You think the only reason you got it was because your mother works there. You are exhibiting a(n) _ locus of control.
A. Essential
B. Natural
C. Internal
D. External
E. Basic

3. Zack got into a car crash. He blames the other car for crashing into him. He has a(n)locus of control
A. External
B. Basic
C. Natrual
D. Basic