Locus of Control: Definition & Relation to Wellness

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  • 0:01 Under Control
  • 0:19 Locus of Control
  • 0:45 External Locus
  • 2:09 Internal Locus
  • 3:25 Using an Internal…
  • 4:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Are you an internally or externally focused person? What does that really all mean? How does it affect your view of the world and your potential successes and failures? This and more will be discussed in this lesson.

Under Control

Do you wear an aluminum hat to make sure the government isn't controlling your thoughts through radio waves? Or maybe you constantly blame yourself for all of your troubles instead of the government? Blaming external or internal factors of control about one's life is what we'll be talking about in this lesson.

Locus of Control

And I'm not really trying to be all that funny with the tin foil hat example, either. What I'm trying to get at is a concept known as locus of control. This refers to the source where a person places responsibility for the events in his or her life.

A locus, by definition, is a source or place of something, such as power or activities. So it's not too hard to see where the entire term 'locus of control' came from.

External Locus

There are two specific forms of locus of control that people may have. Having an external locus of control implies that an individual with such a locus of control believes the outcome of his life, life events, success, and failure is determined by factors out of his control.

Let's examine a couple of good examples of this. If you take a test and fail and place the blame on the teacher for 'failing you' or just bad luck, then you may have an external locus of control.

A person with such a locus may also be one to not care about screening for cancer if they have a history of cancer in their family. Why screen for the cancer if I'm destined to die anyways? This is a thought process a person with an external locus might have.

Therefore, individuals with an external locus will be those with little motivation to improve. I mean, if it's not my fault that something happened or I can't do anything about it, then why try at all?

Dismissal of one's own failures upon an external locus may be a way to preserve self-esteem by not admitting fault. However, the downside is that a person with an external locus will not be one who seeks to improve himself, his skill set, or his thoughts in the face of this failure and may have a bleak view of the future since he believes he has no control over it.

Internal Locus

Individuals with an external locus should be contrasted with people who have an internal locus of control. This refers to an individual who believes he is in control of his destiny, successes, failures, and life.

Let's go back to our prior example of failing a test. A person with an internal locus will blame himself for the F. They may say something like, 'I didn't study enough.' He will follow up a failure with a resolve to improve for a future exam through concrete action, such as studying more the next time around. Not surprisingly, people with an internal locus of control tend to do better in school.

This also applies to a healthy lifestyle. If you believe that you can control the outcome of cancer by proactively going to the doctor to catch it early and therefore potentially cure yourself of it, as opposed to resigning to your fate to it, then you may literally beat cancer.

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