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What determines your success?

14 Jun 2018

This poll tests participant’s locus of control.

My success will be mostly based on... (2 selections are allowed)

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You can take the most widely-used questionnaire to measure locus of control – the 13-item, forced-choice scale of Rotter (1966)

From Wikipedia:


In personality psychology, locus of control is the degree to which 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. A person’s “loci” (plural of “locus”, Latin for “place” or “location”) are conceptualized as internal (a belief that one’s life can be controlled) or external (a belief that life is controlled by outside factors which they cannot influence, or that chance or fate controls their lives).

Rotter (1975) cautioned that internality and externality represent two ends of a continuum, not an either/or typology. 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. They also believe that every action has its consequence, which makes them accept the fact that things happen and it depends on them if they want to have control over it or not. Externals attribute outcomes of events to external circumstances. People with an external locus of control tend to believe that the things which happen in their lives are out of their control,[9] and even that their own actions are a result of external factors, such as fate, luck, the influence of powerful others (such as doctors, the police, or government officials) and/or a belief that the world is too complex for one to predict or successfully control its outcomes. Such people tend to blame others rather than themselves for their lives’ outcomes. It should not be thought, however, that internality is linked exclusively with attribution to effort and externality with attribution to luck (as Weiner’s work makes clear). This has obvious implications for differences between internals and externals in terms of their achievement motivation, suggesting that internal locus is linked with higher levels of need for achievement. Due to their locating control outside themselves, externals tend to feel they have less control over their fate. People with an external locus of control tend to be more stressed and prone to clinical depression.

Internals were believed by Rotter (1966) to exhibit two essential characteristics: high achievement motivation and low outer-directedness. 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. Since 1970, Rotter’s assumption of uni-dimensionality has been challenged, with Levenson (for example) arguing that different dimensions of locus of control (such as beliefs that events in one’s life are self-determined, or organized by powerful others and are chance-based) must be separated. Weiner’s early work in the 1970s suggested that orthogonal to the internality-externality dimension, differences should be considered between those who attribute to stable and those who attribute to unstable causes.

Weiner’s attribution theory as
applied to student motivation
Perceived locus of control
Internal External
Attributions of
no control
Ability Chance/luck
Attributions of
Effort Task difficulty

This new, dimensional theory meant that one could now attribute outcomes to ability (an internal stable cause), effort (an internal unstable cause), task difficulty (an external stable cause) or luck (an external, unstable cause). Although this was how Weiner originally saw these four causes, he has been challenged as to whether people see luck (for example) as an external cause, whether ability is always perceived as stable, and whether effort is always seen as changing. Indeed, in more recent publications (e.g. Weiner, 1980) he uses different terms for these four causes (such as “objective task characteristics” instead of “task difficulty” and “chance” instead of “luck”). Psychologists since Weiner have distinguished between stable and unstable effort, knowing that in some circumstances effort could be seen as a stable cause (especially given the presence of words such as “industrious” in English).

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. People that have this mix of loci of control can take personal responsibility for their actions and the consequences thereof while remaining capable of relying upon and having faith in outside resources; these characteristics correspond to the internal and external loci of control, respectively. An example of this mixed system would be an alcoholic who will accept the fact that he brought the disease upon himself while remaining open to treatment and/or acknowledging that there are people, mainly doctors and therapists, that are trying to cure his/her addiction, and on whom he should rely.


From the University of Virginia, here are brief summaries of what social science research has inferred about the relationship between LOC scores and behavior:


Controlling one’s environment

  • Internals have a tendency to control their weight, adhere to medical regimes, use birth control more effectively, are more open to immunizations and disease prevention, wear
    seat belts, and take regular trips to their dentists.
  • Internals generally inquire about their medical conditions more than externals and are less satisfied with the information health care providers are willing to make available.
  • Internals appear to experience lower anxiety levels than externals.
  • Independent of intelligence, internals tend to remember more bureaucratic information.
  • Women tend to be more external than internal.
  • Union participation and knowledge of political events is usually higher among internals than externals.
  • Generally people in lower socio-economic groups are more likely to be externals than internals.
  • Women who were sickly or experienced accidents as children are more external about their belief in their ability to control their own health.

Control of self

  • Internals tend to enjoy high moral development.
  • Nonsmokers are more inclined to be internal than smokers.
  • Males who exhibit internal locus of control were more likely to stop smoking once the US Surgeon General’s report revealed smoking was dangerous to their health.
  • Internals are more apt to repress failures than externals since externals have a tendency to already accept that factors beyond their control already determined failure.

Ability to influence others

  • Internals generally are more persuasive than externals and better able to influence others’ attitudes.
  • Attempts to manipulate internals make them more resistive than when they are provided with conscious choices.
  • Internals are more likely than externals to fully participate in public protests and take action in an attempt to make change happen.
  • If internals are aware they are being manipulated they are more resistive than externals.
  • Internals will conform if they perceive conformity to be to their advantage. If internals fail to see advantages in conforming they will strongly resist.
  • If praised for an intrinsically motivated task, external’s motivation declines once praise is stopped. Those internally inclined will work harder at the task the next time.

Motivation and achievement

  • The amount of time spent on homework and seeking parent’s help is higher among internals than externals.
  • Internals are more likely to examine colleges they are interested in attending.
  • Internals tend to place more importance on skill conditions than on chance reinforcements.
  • Internals are more likely to have attained higher academic achievements.
  • Since externals tend to have higher stress levels they also tend to be less satisfied with their work. This means externals are more likely to quit their jobs than internals.
  • Externals function better under high structure conditions—internals operate better in low structure conditions.
  • Internals are more likely to stay with and put energy into tasks they have been successful on. Externals have a tendency to give up and move on to another task.


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