Locus of control in psychology: what is it in simple words, examples

Locus of control is a certain ability of an individual to explain his successes or failures in activities by external circumstances (externality, external locus of control), or by internal factors (internality, internal locus of control). This term was introduced by J. Rotter in 1954.

Locus of control is a stable personal characteristic that is difficult to change, but is finally formed in the processes of its socialization. In order to determine the locus of control, a number of methods and a specialized questionnaire have been developed, which allows us to identify patterns between other personality traits.

Internality and externality

"Locus" means "place" in Latin.
The external place of control (but they don’t say that, preferring the concepts of “external locus” or “externality”) implies that a person puts everything that happens to him depending on the circumstances. They are predetermined and cannot be changed. The internal locus or internality suggests that, figuratively speaking, the person himself is the architect of his own happiness. Fate is not something that will definitely happen, but the result of conscious actions, decisions made and a series of choices. And whether they are right or wrong is not the will of chance, but of man.

The difference between these two relationships is clearly visible in practice. For example, people with an external locus blame anyone for their troubles, but not themselves. Low wages, bad work - the government, the country, social conditions are to blame. Internals, on the other hand, tend to blame themselves: I live poorly because I chose the wrong specialty, I am not smart enough to achieve more, etc. We gave this example specifically to show the problem not in the “good-bad” space, but as it really is. External and internal loci in themselves cannot be a completely negative or positive phenomenon. In contrast to the habits and attitude to the surrounding reality dictated by them.

So don’t rush to judge or admire. Rotter created a special questionnaire to determine the locus of control and conducted a series of experiments. For the vast majority of people, this indicator is approximately in the middle - the external and internal loci are developed in a 50/50 ratio.

Lack of clear expression is a characteristic of human nature. Our ability to think will sooner or later rebel if we constantly go with the flow. But we cannot be completely independent of circumstances and other people, no matter how much sociopaths would like it. Based on this state of affairs, the goal for any person who strives for a fulfilling life is to maintain the notorious balance.

Komissarova's theory

The topic of locus control occupies a key position in the works of practicing psychologist Marina Georgievna Komissarova , also known under the pseudonym “Evolution”.

According to her point of view, locus control can be considered as a support in perception and activity.

At the same time, a person of the external type relies on what is beyond his control - on another person, on circumstances that should not be tried to resist.

All this leads to disruption of harmonious love or intra-family, professional relationships, failures in any type of activity.

External locus control prevents a person’s self-realization, which subsequently leads to dissatisfaction with life, irrational grievances and condemnation of the immediate environment.

A person builds defense mechanisms that lead to destructive relationships.

Internal locus control allows you not only to change the situation for your own benefit, but also to continuously improve. In this case, a person relies primarily on his own strength, which significantly motivates him to spiritual growth.

Thanks to this, you can get rid of destructive forms of behavior, normalize relationships with others and achieve professional success.

What is locus of control

We all know fatalists in the traditional sense of the word. Or at least those who believe in astrology, horoscopes, omens, etc. For them, the predestination of existence is not a phrase from a philosophy textbook, but a real way of explaining certain events in life. For example, the bosses at work did not like the report - the fact that the Moon is in the third house played a role here. Are layoffs coming due to the crisis? Well, what can you do, they’ll fire you – that’s the fate.

In these examples, the colors are thickened specifically to contrast with those who, on the contrary, take full responsibility for their lives. The victories and defeats of such people belong only to them and no one else. They do not see or deny the excessive influence of external factors on the course of events that directly concern them.

In fact, we have described the two types of people that the concept of “locus of control” predetermines. If we follow scientific terminology, then this is a personality trait that manifests itself in assessing one’s ability to influence the course of events. The assessment itself, as you have already seen, can be of two types: faith in fate or faith in choice (this is poetic, more “dry” - below).

For the first time, an American scientist in the field of social psychology, one of the most influential theorists of social learning, Julian Rotter, became interested in this property. He proposed the term itself in 1954. Later, his followers and students took up the baton of studying this phenomenon, including the famous psychologist, researcher of the psychology of motivation and the nature of emotions Bernard Weiner. Today, scientists are also interested in it, especially from the fields of clinical, educational and health psychology. Locus of control remains a relevant topic due to the fact that it is one of the components that influence a person’s self-esteem.

Formation mechanism

The formation of one or another type of locus of control and its evolution are influenced by a number of factors: the individual characteristics of a person, the conditions of upbringing, the state of the society in which he lives, the historical moment and much more. Under their influence, the individual develops one of the following attitudes: “Nothing depends on me” (passive position), “Everything in life depends only on me” (active position of the master of fate).

In 1954, Rotter proposed that attitude choice was related to how often an individual was exposed to praise and punishment. If in response to his actions he received a negative reaction, experienced unpleasant emotions, felt negative consequences, or the actions did not bring the expected result, then he will form the belief “I don’t decide anything.”

Thus, education plays a large role in the formation of locus of control. Children from authoritarian families with inconsistent parental behavior develop an external type of control. From early childhood they are accustomed to obeying and going with the flow. Children from families with a democratic upbringing style and consistent parental behavior develop an internal type of responsibility.

Upbringing, the state of society, and the era influence the type of responsibility. However, it is important to remember that locus of control develops and changes throughout life. At any moment, the subject, if he wants, can change his fate.

Psychology of locus of control

Such a property as locus of control is one of the main and significant characteristics that connect a person’s internal experiences, his actions, and a sense of responsibility for their accomplishment.

The specific psychology of locus of control lies in the fact that the subject strives to seek and attribute responsibility for a particular event to various external or internal subjective factors and his own efforts.

Roughly speaking, locus of control is a specific character trait of an individual, which fully reflects the degree of his tendency to endow the results of his activities with certain attributes.

He can define his own success and achievements as the result of his personal efforts or, conversely, by a combination of circumstances, someone’s intervention, or the consequence of certain external factors and events.

Failure for him can be, for example, the result of his own shortcomings, shortcomings, imperfections. It is worth noting that this characteristic is practically not amenable to conscious change, being formed in the process of adaptation to the conditions of society, and depends on the accompanying conditions. This also explains the fact that the locus parameters (externality and internality) are not innate characteristics.

It is worth noting that an extreme degree of externality or internality is never observed in one person. Rather, these parameters appear in varying degrees of severity simultaneously, forming a kind of mixed type.

Thus, the same subject, depending on what happens to him, can “attribute” responsibility for what happened either to himself or to various external factors and attributes. This “mixed” type also forms the basis of a specific phenomenon called “predisposition to one’s own self.”


An external locus of control makes a person believe that everything good and bad happens in his life due to external circumstances. For example, he can give the following explanations for the events happening to him:

  • graduated from university with bad grades because the education system in the country is bad;
  • I was late for work because there were traffic jams;
  • the salary is low because the management does not appreciate it;
  • It is not possible to get rid of excess weight due to bad heredity.

He also explains positive events by external circumstances. For example, many students believe that they entered the university by pure luck, and subsequently it seems to them that they are often lucky in their studies. And yet, much more often, externality manifests itself in the fact that a person blames circumstances and others for his troubles.

Individuals with an internal locus of control consider events that happen to them to be their own achievements or failures. Typically their explanations look like this:

  • I didn’t study very diligently, that’s why my grades were bad;
  • I was late for work because I left very late;
  • the salary is low because there are not enough qualifications for promotion;
  • excess weight cannot be lost due to poor eating habits and reluctance to exercise.

Of course, individuals with an internal locus of control also credit positive events to their own merits. They consider good education, discipline, a slim figure, high income, etc. In communication, such people are more pleasant, because they are always confident in themselves and almost never exude negativity.

Locus of control by J. Rotter, diagnosis

The Rotter scale is bipolar (on one pole there are internals, on the other - externals), allows you to diagnose the level of internal locus: the degree of independence of people, responsibility and activity in achieving goals.

Determining your own locus of control serves as the basis for improvement, self-analysis, understanding strengths and weaknesses, changing your attitude towards current events - a powerful impetus for personal growth and development. The predominance of external features indicates the need to learn to bear responsibility, to note one’s own contribution, in addition to external influences.

It is important for people prone to internality to understand that it is impossible to keep absolutely everything under control. There is no person in the world who knows and can do everything

Photo by Julian Rotter

History of creation

Rotter's social learning theory appeared in the mid-1950s and was finally formed within 20 years. It arose in the context of American science aimed at positive knowledge. True, Adlerian psychology, focused on the social determinants of behavior, had a great influence on the choice of value bases. So, for example, axioms appeared: psychology should study the individual in the context of the surrounding world that is significant for him (axiom 1); personal constructs cannot be reduced to constructs of other sciences (axiom 2). But the influence of E. Tolman’s psychology, oriented towards the natural science approach, turned out to be stronger. This is reflected in the following axioms: behavior is purposeful and depends on reinforcement (axiom 6); goal orientation is determined by anticipation based on the experience of existing actions (axiom 7). At the same time, the neo-behaviourist tradition manifests itself in the theory of social learning and as a certain standard of scientificity, prescribing a strict formalization of initial concepts. Therefore, moving from methodological postulates to the construction of a theoretical model, Rotter tries to derive complex, “molecular” forms of behavior, which are targeted by social or clinical psychology, from elementary simple, “molar” ones, reproducible under regulated experimental conditions.

The main task of Rotter's theory is to predict behavior in a situation of choice from clearly defined alternatives. In accordance with the first concept of the theory, in a situation of choice, the action whose “behavioral potential” is higher will be implemented. The “behavioral potential” itself appears as the integration of two components: the subjective probability of reinforcement after an action, or “expectation,” and the subjective “value” of this reinforcement.

Then, trying to analyze these components and moving on to consider “value,” Rotter goes to the level of “molecular” forms of behavior. The “value” of the result of an action is expressed in the integration of the “value” of the action itself and the “value” of the consequences accompanying it.

But the author of the theory of social learning focuses on the deployment of the concept of “expectation”, which gives the following formalization: the subjective probability of an event occurring in a certain situation appears as the sum of a “specific expectation” determined by the experience of interaction with similar situations, and a “generalized expectation” based on experience solving a wider range of problems. At the same time, the role of “generated expectation” in the new situation will be decisive; in a typical situation, on the contrary, a “specific expectation” is realized, formed by the experience of interaction with this type of situation.

Rotter does not introduce concepts that would create a context for the concepts of “values” and “expectations”, for example: “dynamics of the motivational-need sphere” or “Self-concept”. This leads to the fact that a number of empirical data begin to contradict his theory. In particular, “values” and “expectations”, considered by him as independent, in fact turn out to be interrelated: with failure, the “value” of the goal decreases due to the association with unpleasant emotions. X. Heckhausen sees in this the fundamental limitations of non-situational (generalized) constructs in general compared to situation-specific ones, which raises some doubts in us. A possible solution to the issue under consideration is to describe “generalization” as a qualitative process that occurs along with the development of personal structures. For Rotter, generalization is a linear, quantitative process in which a series of experiences are generalized, so this concept remains purely descriptive for him, without experimental justification and not related to the mechanisms of creating the self-concept.

Personality locus of control

Locus of control is the tendency of people to attribute responsibility for their own performance to external or internal factors. It is formed in the process of socialization of people and does not exist in its pure form.

The concept of what a locus is in psychology was introduced by the American psychologist Julian Rotter in the mid-60s of the 20th century. The formulation is based on the individual’s generalized beliefs regarding the causes of events in his life and responsibility for the results.

Rotter discovered a continuum, where the extreme points are people with pronounced external or internal attribution strategies (attribution). The remaining individuals are in intermediate positions between the extreme poles.

Interesting. In the process of evolution, women develop externality, while men have a higher self-regard.

Which locus is “better”, more useful and why

The internal locus of control (IC) is, by all accounts, more useful than the external one, since it is an active lever for personal development. People with internal LC in their character show persistence and consistency in their goals, because they have self-confidence. In contrast, externals for the most part show uncertainty, imbalance and excessive suspicion. This contributes to depression, psychopathy, or even manic-depressive behavior.

For the most part, internals are almost always successful. Firstly, they are more open, frank and trusting of others, which is why they endear themselves to themselves. Secondly, they are always purposeful, consistent in their goals and ready to defend their own interests and principles. It should be noted that everyone has hope for external factors, and a degree of self-confidence.

What is locus of control

In psychology, locus of control (cognitive orientation) is a personality property in which an individual attributes his failures and victories only to external or only internal factors. That is, in the first case, he looks for reasons in the outside world: enemies are plotting, a bad streak, or, conversely, luck and chance (in case of victories). In the second case, the individual always looks for reasons within himself. Only he is responsible for everything that happens in his life.

The term “locus of control” comes from Julian Rotter. An alternative name for the phenomenon is Rotter's locus of control. In psychology, this is a reflection of an individual’s ideas about how much he controls his own destiny, how much he influences life events. Locus means "place" in Latin.

Definition in psychology

What is locus of control?

Personal locus of control in psychology means an individual's predisposition to interpret his failures and successes , achievements or failures as influenced by external or internal factors.

This characteristic is quite stable throughout life, but can be subject to changes as part of a person’s socialization.

Interesting experiments

Such a locus of personal control allows a person to defend and protect his interests, from everyday everyday events to participation in political actions. To illustrate, we present the results of another experiment by J. Rotter.

The respondents were college students who were active participants in various movements fighting for civil rights. The results were expected, because among these people the majority had an internal locus of control.

An interesting experiment is about the dangers of smoking. Participants were given information on the packs about the negative effects of cigarettes (the study was conducted in the 60s of the 20th century). After such a message, the internals tried to quit smoking, but the externals relaxed and let everything take its course - come what may. Individuals with an external locus of control counted on help from doctors, magic pills, and fate, but did nothing themselves to change their condition.

External group

People belonging to this group are firmly convinced that their efforts and efforts will not be able to change their usual way of life. In their opinion, forecasting and planning will not be successful, so they can be postponed to the near future.

Individuals included in the external group expect various gifts from life that can change their lives. Most of these individuals are characterized by such qualities as low self-esteem, unreasonable fear and anxiety. Reluctance to take responsibility is accompanied by an inability to defend one’s own interests. Experts note that this category of people is characterized by impulsiveness, causeless aggression and a tendency towards depressive disorder. They often give in to excitement and take risky actions without thinking about the possible consequences.

External locus of control is the desire for conformity. This fact is based on experiments and research conducted on the topic of the phenomenon in question. The basis of such studies is the Rotter test. Based on membership in one of the categories, experts formed a focus group. This group included people with overestimated indicators of belonging to the locus of control of both types.

The purpose of this experiment is to identify individuals who are able to resist public opinion and people who agree with it. Each test participant was given a certain financial amount, which was to be used as a bet on personal opinion or the opinions of others. As a result of the experiment, participants belonging to the internal group made bets taking into account their own opinions, despite the presence of confrontation with others. Individuals belonging to the external locus relied on public opinion, without doubting its truthfulness and correctness.

Types of people and locus of control

Although in reality it is quite rare to encounter individuals who are characterized exclusively by an external or internal, that is, a displaced locus of control, depending on this, the following two types of people can be distinguished:


This type of people tends to expect external stimulation of their actions.

They are dependent on circumstances and the people around them, they need approval and support from them, but they can also be blamed for the fact that they cannot achieve solutions to their problems. Also, they themselves are not inclined to provide support.

Externals, as a rule, are emotionally unstable and tend to change their minds. They can blindly follow other people's advice, are more trusting and dependent on other people's opinions.

However, the external type of people adapts more easily to changes and adapts faster to new conditions.


This type of people is distinguished by purposefulness and diligence, integrity and risk-taking.

They attribute all their achievements and failures only to themselves and their qualities.

They are emotionally stable, tend to adjust situations and change them for their own benefit, and also suppress the opinions of others, although they themselves cannot stand manipulation or interference in their plans.

People of the internal type are more concerned about their own health and are inclined to actively fight for their comfort and well-being.

The self-esteem of internals and externals is also significantly different - if the former tend to consider themselves sociable and kind, more decisive and independent, then the latter often declare their insolvency, lack of self-confidence and selfishness.

What are the main types and functions of will in psychology? Find out about this from our article.

Personal maturity

Internal locus of control in psychology is a property of a mature person. He doesn't care what other people think about him. He gives an objective, not subjective assessment of his abilities and capabilities. But in this case it is difficult not to go to extremes.

To stick to the golden mean, set goals that you can definitely achieve. Don't try to change circumstances beyond your control. Otherwise, you are guaranteed to experience disappointment, depression, and apathy. And one more piece of advice - analyze your surroundings. If you see instability, do not make far-reaching plans.

How to independently determine your locus type

Several indicators of the control scale help in determining the locus:

1. “Internality” is general (IO). The higher the percentage of the scale, the greater the person’s conviction that important events in life are a projection onto the result of his actions. You can independently manage events and feel responsible for individual events, or life in general. If the indicator is low, then this indicates a difficult connection between actions and significant life events. Such a person has low confidence in the ability to control the development of events; he believes that this is a random phenomenon or the external influence of other people.

2. “Internality” of achievements (ID). Those with a high level of achievement believe that everything achieved in life is owed only to themselves. People with a low level believe that this is the result of luck in life, a happy accident.

3. “Internality” of failures (IN). A high rate indicates a tendency to self-blame for failures, troubles and suffering. Low is associated with a preference for attributing merit to events, people, or the result of bad luck.

4. “Internality” of family relationships (IR). A high rate is typical for a person who considers himself responsible for his own family events. Low - indicates detachment from problems and involves the removal of responsibility for relatives or family.

5. “Internality” of industrial relations (IP). With a high indicator, a person considers his own achievements to be the most important factor in the formation of collective activities or relationships in a team, in his professional advancement, etc. With a low indicator, it speaks of suspiciousness and dependence on external circumstances - the influence of management, colleagues, luck, failure.

6. Interpersonal internality (IM). A high indicator is manifested in the ability to evoke mutual respect and sympathy, etc. Low - in the category of people who are unable to actively engage in social circles.

7. “Internality” in the sphere of health and the level of illness (IZ). A high result indicates a greater degree of attention to his health: if he is sick, he blames himself and believes that his recovery will depend on his decisions and actions taken. If it is low, he considers health or illness to be the result of an insured event and hopes that recovery depends entirely on the effectiveness of the actions of other people, primarily doctors.

How is it related to human activity?

Belonging to an external or internal locus of control significantly influences a person’s behavior in a given situation, as well as his professional achievements.

People of the internal type , due to their determination and responsibility, achieve greater success in life. They are more focused on the results of their work and are inclined to plan their activities, which ultimately has a positive effect on their career.

Also, unlike externals, they prefer to work alone.

Leaders of the internal type are often authoritarian .

They are more proactive and consistent in their steps, and are inclined to defend their point of view.

However, internals often set inflated, unattainable goals for themselves and strive to change what is beyond their power .

Externals are more passive in their activities. In case of failures, they like to shift responsibility for their actions to others - for example, to a manager or to their inadequate colleagues; they are not distinguished by initiative, which has a rather negative impact on their professional effectiveness.

They do not plan their activities, prefer to put off problems until later, and as a result, this behavior prevents them from achieving success. To work effectively, externals require constant monitoring and supervision by a manager.

The positive qualities of externals are that they work better in a team , are more practical and adapt faster to rapidly changing situations.

How to develop an internal locus of control

The ideal option for each individual would be the uniform development of both internal and external loci. From here comes the desire to change, to become better. Changing the locus of control can only occur under the supervision of a psychotherapist who will develop programs specifically designed to increase self-esteem.

To achieve internal balance without the help of psychotherapists, you must:

  • control and not transfer your responsibility to others
  • be responsible for your actions and understand the degree of responsibility
  • admit your failures, guilt and independently assign yourself punishment

If the internal locus predominates, then intentions should be changed:

  1. There is no need to take everything at once, you should give in return. For example, mutually beneficial deals.
  2. Be observant. In the actions and reactions of others, you can find equivalent solutions to actions. There must be a connection between a person's action and his reaction to it.
  3. Be correct in your behavior and communication.

If you are led (perhaps by your work team or friends), change yourself:

  • Be confident in yourself, in your actions, words and actions.
  • Be unresponsive to the group's opinions
  • Show your opinion
  • Listen carefully to other people's opinions
  • Keep yourself in check
  • As little negativity towards others as possible.
  • Your own point of view about the information received.

Remember, that:

  1. A harmonious existence should be achievable and quite close to the current state.
  2. A person must set realistic goals in the process of moving towards the main goal.
  3. Daily work will help achieve harmony.
  4. Education and self-education are a mutual process, often endless.

How to achieve greater stability?

You can, for example, use your adult strength to be stable. This maturity is measured by what you can do to change the instability.

How much effort you put into unstable things. The complexity of tasks is stability. The New York City Marathon is always the same 26 miles, but weather conditions can dampen that consistency.

Your rights as a citizen of a country may be more or less stable depending on where you live.

The weather is unstable, but the change of seasons (depending on where you live) is a stable process. (Although climate change is affecting this).

The stability and instability of things affects what your locus of control is. The stability or instability of things is your way of perceiving what is actually happening. You can decide whether you have control over certain factors.

Another person may see the same situation differently and believe that they can change it.

For example, you may believe that colds are inevitable in winter. This happens every year and this is a stable external factor, because you live in society, use transport, and your immunity is unchanged.

Someone else considers their immunity unstable. And it can be influenced through exercise and healthy eating. They can commute to work by bicycle, on foot, or by car and consider this an alternative to travel.

The concept of stability is very close to the concept of controllability.

Why know this?

What practical meaning can be derived from this knowledge? Indeed, at first glance it may seem that the theory is informative and interesting, but nothing more. In fact, determining your locus of control and reconsidering your attitude towards what is happening to you is a powerful tool for self-development.

A superficial analysis can be carried out even without seeking help from the mentioned questionnaires and tests based on them on the Internet. Just try to look at yourself from the outside and evaluate your attitude towards what happened in the near future. For example, you received a D on a test or your boss yelled at you for doing a bad job. What were your next steps? Did you conscientiously learn everything and correct mistakes in your work, because what happened was your fault? Or, cursing the teacher and boss for bias and injustice, did what was necessary “under the lash” just to be left alone? Of course, such options are not mutually exclusive, but in other cases they are less clearly related to locus of control.

Thus, by choosing the right series of questions and answering them honestly, you will receive a ready-made map that can indicate in which direction you should move next and which skills and qualities of your character to develop and which to get rid of. Expressed externality indicates that you need to learn to take responsibility, be more confident and proactive. Establish observation of yourself and everything that happens, learn to see your trace, and not just a coincidence.

Internals should ask themselves similar questions. Their reaction to a shift in locus should be to refuse to control things that do not need control. It is worth recognizing that it is impossible to foresee absolutely everything, much less influence it. Therefore, reproaching yourself every time something goes wrong is a stupid idea and promises depression. Seek harmony!


Is there any practical benefit to the average person in understanding what locus of control is? This information seems interesting and informative, but even without it, any person knows perfectly well that only those individuals who take full responsibility for their lives , their decisions and their mistakes achieve success. It’s not just that many self-improvement techniques are aimed at this.

It’s not just externals who need to work on themselves, trying to turn an external locus of control into an internal one. Internals also often need to slightly ease the pressure on themselves, because they tend to try to control everything, even that which does not need their control.

Locus of control is the most important factor for success in all areas of life. This is not just the ability to be responsible for your actions, it is a complete feeling that you can achieve any goals by putting effort in the right directions. And even people with an external locus of control can form this feeling. It’s enough to start asking yourself the right questions and answering them honestly.

Locus of Control Test

The purpose of the technique is to determine the characteristic orientation of the individual towards external (external) or internal (internal) stimuli. Instructions – the test contains 44 short statements. It is necessary to imagine the situations described and select the answer: “+” (“yes”), “–” (“no”).

Who is to blame for successes and failures in life?

We need negative or positive answers to the following statements:

  1. Career growth is a gift of fate, not human effort.
  2. Divorces occur between people who are not ready to make concessions to each other.
  3. Getting sick is a matter of chance; if you are destined to get sick, there is no escape.
  4. The reason for loneliness is a lack of interest and friendliness towards others.
  5. The fulfillment of desires depends on luck.
  6. There is no point in trying to gain the sympathy of others.
  7. Welfare affects family happiness no less than the relationship between spouses.
  8. I have little influence on what is happening.
  9. The effectiveness of leadership lies in controlling the actions of subordinates, rather than relying on independence.
  10. Grades at school depend on the mood of the teacher, and not on your own efforts.
  11. I believe in realizing my own plans.
  12. Luck is the result of long efforts.
  13. A healthy lifestyle helps your health more than pills and doctors.
  14. If people are not compatible, their efforts to create a life together will be in vain.
  15. My good deeds are highly appreciated by others.
  16. Children's behavior is the result of parental education.
  17. Chance or fate has no significant meaning in life.
  18. I don’t think ahead, because much in life depends not on me, but on circumstances.
  19. My performance at school depended on my own efforts and readiness.
  20. I feel guilty in family quarrels.
  21. People's lives are determined by a combination of circumstances.
  22. I prefer guidance that allows me to figure things out on my own.
  23. Lifestyle does not affect possible illnesses.
  24. An unfortunate combination of circumstances interferes with success.
  25. Employees are responsible for poor company management.
  26. I cannot change the existing relationships in the family.
  27. If desired, I will win over any person.
  28. The younger generation is influenced by various circumstances; the efforts of relatives in education are useless.
  29. I myself am to blame for what is happening.
  30. Sometimes it is difficult to characterize management decisions in a given situation.
  31. A person who has not achieved success at work has not shown enough effort.
  32. I get what I want from my family.
  33. Other people are to blame for my failures.
  34. A child can be protected from a cold if you take care of prevention.
  35. With the onset of a “dark streak”, I wait until the problems are resolved in their own way, without trying to change anything.
  36. Success is the result of hard work and depends little on fate.
  37. The happiness of my family depends on me.
  38. I don't understand why some people like me and others don't.
  39. I make decisions and act independently, without relying on chance or the help of strangers.
  40. The merits of people often remain unrecognized, despite their diligence.
  41. Sometimes it is impossible to find a way out of a family situation even with a strong desire.
  42. Talented people who have not realized their own abilities have only themselves to blame.
  43. Many successes are achieved with the help of outsiders.
  44. Most failures are caused by laziness, a small number depend on luck.

Testing the organization's employees for locus of control

To determine your own locus of control, you need to count the number of answers on a separate scale, each match is equal to one point on it. For example, 4 positive and 6 negative answers matched, the total amount was 10 points.

General internality scale:

  • «+» 2, 4, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 22, 25, 27, 29, 32, 34, 36, 37, 39, 42, 44;
  • «–» 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 18, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 31, 33, 38, 40, 41, 43.

Processing the results:

  • 0-11 points – externality;
  • 12-32 points – mixed type (depending on the circumstances, the person behaves like an internal or external type);
  • 33-44 points – internal.

About the algorithm for calculating the number of points based on these answers, detailed information can be found on the Internet. In psychology, locus is not a diagnosis, but a relatively stable value that can change throughout life under the influence of various factors: economic, legal, social. If a person grew up in a loving family, his parents instilled the habit of taking responsibility for himself, there is a high probability of developing an internal locus of control. Pupils of pupils with authoritarian, strict, unpredictable parents are external. People are capable of acquiring an internal locus or, conversely, freeing themselves from unhealthy self-control independently throughout their lives.

Diagnostics and measurement techniques

In Russian psychology, the most common methods for measuring locus of control are:

  1. J. Rotter's locus of control scale. This method was developed by Rotter in 1966 and first published in Russian in 1984 by E. Bazhin. It represents 29 positions with different statements - “a” and “b” for each position, determining whether a person belongs to the external or internal type. Depending on the preferred statements, the person being tested scores points on the extreme positions of the internality or externality scale. However, the maximum possible number of points scored on each scale does not exceed 23, since 6 questions are “background”.
  2. USC questionnaire (level of subjective control) by E. F. Bazhin, co-authored with E. A. Golynkina and A. M. Etkind. This questionnaire consists of 44 items. Subscales were added to it concerning areas of success, situations of failure, attitudes towards health, professional and family relationships.
  3. OSLC (questionnaire for subjective localization of control) by S. R. Pantileev and V. V. Stolin . It consists of 32 points, 26 of which are working, and 6 are background. It has a one-dimensional scale that measures the direction of an individual's locus of control.

External external factor

The external (external) factor helps determine the degree of activity of an individual, his independence and independence, and is also one of the most important personality traits. This type is found among those who place the full measure of responsibility for everything that happens around them not on themselves, but on those around them or the prevailing circumstances.

Externals overreact to all unforeseen circumstances, perceiving circumstances with wariness or even fear

When planning, much attention is paid to the past; memories from the past are included in plans. The planning itself for such individuals is conditional, because life can make its own adjustments



For each match with the key, 1 point is awarded on the corresponding scale.

Externality2, 6, 7, 9, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 293, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 22, 26, 28
Internality3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 22, 26, 282, 6, 7, 9, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 29

It is easy to notice that the scale points are inverse to each other, and their values ​​always add up to 23 points.

Content interpretation

Rotter believed that there are individual differences that depend on who people hold responsible for what happens to them. Due to the fact that he introduced the concept of “expectation”, i.e. confidence or subjective probability that a certain behavior of people in a given psychological situation will be reinforced in some way, he identified two types of people: among the first, those who are confident that they can control and influence the reinforcements they receive are people with internal (internal) locus of control (“internal” - from English “internal”, internal;); among others, those who believe that reinforcement is a matter of chance or fate are people with an external (external) locus of control (“external” - from the English “external”, external).

In the first case, a person believes that the events that happen to him primarily depend on his personal qualities, such as, for example, competence, determination, level of abilities, and are a natural result of his own activities. In the second case, a person is convinced that his successes or failures are the result of external forces such as luck, chance, peer pressure, other people, etc. Any individual occupies a certain position on the straight line (on the continuum) defined by these polar types of locus of control.

Experimentally, Rotter was able to show that externals are more helpless, they have weaker motivation, and they are more prone to conformism. The most optimal is the internal-external locus of control; such people have relative stability.

Internals differ from externals in many ways. Internals tend to be more independent, more success-oriented, more politically active, and have a greater sense of personal power. They seek power to a greater extent and direct their efforts towards achieving dominance over the environment. In general, internals acquire more information and are better able to retain and use it to control their environment. Internals are less suggestible, more independent, and rely more on their own judgment. In contrast to externalists, they evaluate information based on its own value rather than on the prestige or competence of the information source. Internals are more likely to strive for high achievements and delay gratification in order to receive greater rewards, at least at a later date. Externals are significantly more suggestible, smoke significantly more often and take high risks in gambling; they are less successful, dominant and patient; are more willing to receive help from others and are more prone to self-deprecation.

It seems that a person’s belief that his life is controlled by external forces, as a psychological defense, by its nature has a certain deficiency. It naturally gives rise to pathology and is associated with feelings of powerlessness, inferiority, and low self-esteem. Anyone who does not rely on himself or does not believe in himself, accordingly limits himself in acquiring information and skills; in communicating with others, he tends to try to win him over. It is easy to understand that low self-esteem, a tendency to self-deprecation, a small number of skills on which the experience of self-worth could be based, unsatisfactory interpersonal relationships - all this prepares the ground for psychopathology. To an extreme degree, people with an external locus of control are more likely to suffer from overt psychopathology than people close to the extreme with an internal locus of control. A person with a high external locus of control is more likely to experience feelings of inadequacy and is, on average, more anxious, hostile, tired, confused and depressed, and less energetic and cheerful.

The similarity of these characteristics with the descriptions of field-independent (or convinced of their exclusivity) and field-dependent (or believing in the existence of an ultimate savior) individuals is quite obvious. We can integrate these data into a larger picture by imagining a continuum with field dependence, an external locus of control, an orientation towards the ultimate savior at one pole and field independence, an internal locus of control, an orientation towards personal exclusivity at the other pole. Proximity to either end of the continuum is highly correlated with clinically manifest psychopathology. However, according to many studies, one pole of the continuum is associated with a personality organization that is less effective and more prone to the development of psychopathology. Individuals who are overly field-dependent, with an external locus of control, more often suffer from pronounced psychopathology than individuals who are close to field-independent, with an internal locus of control at the extreme.

Residential patients hospitalized for tuberculosis knew more about their condition, showed more curiosity about their disease, and indicated that they were dissatisfied with the amount of information they received from doctors and nurses. When compiling stories using TAT cards, internals were significantly less susceptible to suggestion and influence exerted through hidden hints on the part of the person conducting the testing.

Severely disturbed psychiatric patients are more likely to be externalizers. Among schizophrenics, externalities significantly predominate. Numerous studies have demonstrated a strong connection between external locus of control and depression. All of this research data is consistent with clinical experience. People are more likely to seek therapy due to the collapse of defenses associated with belief in an ultimate savior (due to craving for dependence, low self-esteem, self-contempt, helplessness, masochistic tendencies, depression as a result of loss or threat of loss of a significant other ) than due to the breakdown of a defense based on a belief in personal exclusivity. One team of researchers reported a positive correlation between external locus of control and death anxiety. In other words, the external locus turns out to be a less effective barrier against death anxiety than the internal one. (However, in another experiment, which used other methods for assessing death anxiety, this result could not be reproduced)

However, a person's assessment of his abilities may be inaccurate. There are several reasons that contribute to misperceptions of control. The desire for control can be considered one of the most important. The ability to manage one's own life provides the individual with a certain degree of independence from social and biological reality. People strive to feel in control of a situation even when its outcome is clearly determined by chance. Sometimes, to maintain a sense of control, it is enough to be aware of your ability to predict the occurrence of an event, which, in principle, can no longer be considered as control over it. The erroneous perception of control as high contributes to neglect of possible danger, as well as the formation of inflated expectations regarding the effectiveness of one’s own actions. As a result, the person either finds himself unprepared for a stressful situation or experiences deep disappointment regarding his abilities. Awareness of one's responsibility is important in the case when the desired result can be achieved through active actions, through the application of significant efforts. In situations where the outcome is not determined by a person's behavior, perceived control is undesirable.

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