Locus of control

Darryl Bachmeier
Jun 27, 2020

Your perception of the extent to which you are in charge of your life is called the locus of control.

The concept of locus of control is not that difficult to understand and can be explained easily by splitting the meaning of each of the components of this phrase.

Locus refers to location and control means the authority of being in charge of the outcomes of your actions. Hence “Locus of control” means assigning where the authority is located in your life.

The locus may be within yourself which means you control your life and it could be located externally which means other factors control your life without your will.


Depending on what you perceive about where your authority of life is located, psychology has divided locus of control into two types as internal locus of control and external locus of control which we will discuss one by one.

Internal locus of control

People with an internal locus of control tend to be more self-sufficient and believe in the fact that “as you sow, so shall you reap”.

Qualities: They possess all the alpha qualities reflecting self-sufficiency. They are active, enthusiastic, determined, hardworking, creative, goal-oriented, futuristic, and fall in the “Doers” category.

Upshots: As all of us believe that hard work pays in the form of success, so individuals with an internal LoC have a more stable life. They end up having their dreams in hand.

Financially they are more stable with their dreams in their hand,

Their health is good and they have a positive body image.

Socially they are active, responsible, and play a vital role in being authentic to approach.

External locus of control

It supports the idea “if it’s meant to be it will be” and people with external LoC consider external forces to be more powerful than their will. They leave situations in the hands of fate and give destiny the authority to control their lives. Their perception of life is dependent on passivity.

Qualities: They tend to be hopeless, anxious, dependent on luck, feel powerless, and blame outside forces for bad results.

Upshots: Their life is not a good example of success and they often end up having average or below-average outcomes of their actions. Their instinct doesn’t let them achieve great things in life.

They often encounter financial issues as their beliefs are purely spiritual and they initially don’t give much of their life to money-making.

Their health deteriorates and most of them suffer from obesity, addictions, and systemic diseases. Socially awkward attributed to their passivity in life.

Factors affecting locus of control

Psychologists suggest that age, gender, parenting, life experiences, and socioeconomic status along with a few minor factors affect the locus of control of an individual.

Age: locus of control deviates from an external locus at an early age too and internal locus as the person gets older. Here maturity with age could be thought of as the culprit responsible for attaining internal locus of control.

Gender: Males are said to be using the internal locus belief throughout their life whereas the majority of females exist with the external locus idea, but in rare cases, the scenario can turn upside down owing to other factors.

Life experiences: That is a major contributor while deciding the personality type of a person. A well-experienced person usually tends to put the locus in the internal category as through trial and error he might have achieved stability. But an exact opposite case can occur as well if an experienced individual who underwent some tragic failures has left his life to the hands of destiny and is no more interested in active participation to achieve his goals.

Parenting: It is the key component deciding the prospect nature of a child. If someone’s parents taught him to be punctual and determined in early life, the person will attain an internal locus of control but if a child has been scolded continuously for no reason the faith of his actions has been shattered and he now will be a believer of the external locus.

Determining locus of control in practical life

Practically the locus of control is neither purely internal nor purely external. The extent to which a person can control his life lies somewhere between the two extremes.

It is wrong to consider an internal locus ‘positive’ and an external locus ‘negative’. No doubt, life is unpredictable and there are factors one can not control, that is where external locus plays its role. Because when it comes to life, you need to merge both types of controls to tackle real-life situations effectively.

Your nature of being an internal or external locus person is only a rough estimation of which characteristics dominate in your personality. So be the master of your fate and the captain of your soul.

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