Internal and external eaters: what's the difference?

Greetings, friends!

Although many of us do not realize it, all people perceive the events that happen to them in completely different ways. Some people think that their life depends only on themselves and on the decisions they make. Others rely on fate or external circumstances in everything. The tendency of an individual to explain his achievements and failures only by external or only internal factors is called locus of control. Today we will talk about what it is, what it is like and how it is formed.

What is locus of control?

Locus of control is a concept in psychology that characterizes a person’s tendency to perceive his successes or failures as a consequence of personal qualities or external circumstances. Accordingly, there are two options:

  • External locus of control (externality) - successes and failures are the result of a combination of circumstances beyond a person’s control;
  • Internal locus of control (internality) - successes and failures are the result of invested efforts, decisions made and depend primarily on personal qualities, and not on a combination of circumstances;

This term is derived from the Latin word locus (translated as “place” or “location”) and from the word “control”, which does not need explanation. It denotes a certain abstract space in which, according to a person, the factors that determine his life are concentrated. The term was coined by American psychologist Julian Rotter in his book Social Learning and Clinical Psychology, first published in 1954.

Locus of control is a fairly stable personality property that does not change over time and is practically not amenable to correction by psychotherapeutic methods. At the same time, modern psychology has quite accurate methods that make it possible to unambiguously determine which specific locus a person possesses.

Internal locus of control is considered preferable. Internality speaks of a high level of maturity, discipline and independence of the individual. But externality is often accompanied by infantilism and aggressiveness, which do not contribute to the development of good relationships with others.

Types of people

Locus of control, according to testing, determines the dominant type of responsibility. In psychology, it is common to distinguish 3 types of people:

  • external;
  • internal;
  • mixed.

In psychology, it is believed that pure, 100% types of external and internal locus of control do not exist - in each a certain part of the properties can dominate, or exist in a balanced way.

Internals are characterized by high responsibility for what is happening in their lives; they are confident that they control events, have independent thinking and never fall under the influence of others. Internals are characterized by high willpower, they are emotionally stable, quickly restore and maintain internal harmony. This set of qualities helps them to be purposeful.

External people tend to be passive, go with the flow, and depend on the opinions of others. Because their locus of control is external, they are more likely to be insecure, procrastinate, anxious, aggressive, and suspicious. Externals rarely see their own mistakes, and they are also characterized by low communication skills and poor planning.


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.

Internals and externals

One of the most important characteristics of a person is the degree of independence, independence and activity of a person in achieving his goals, the development of personal responsibility for the events that happen to him.

Methods for studying the degree of independence were first developed in the 1960s in the USA. The most famous is D. Rotter's locus of control scale. This scale is based on the fact that people differ among themselves in where they localize control over events that are significant to them.

There are two possible locus of control options and, accordingly, two types of people:

  • externals (external locus of control) - a person believes that the events that happen to him are the result of the action of external forces, chance, circumstances, other people, etc.;
  • internals (internal locus of control) - a person interprets significant events as the result of his own efforts.

Internals believe that most of the important events in their lives were the result of their own actions, and they feel their own responsibility for these events and for the way their lives turn out in general. They believe that they themselves have achieved all the good things that have happened and are in their lives, and that they are able to successfully achieve their goals in the future. But they take responsibility for all negative events and tend to blame themselves for failures, troubles, and suffering.

Such people consider their actions to be an important factor in organizing their own production, in developing relationships in the team, and in their advancement. The internal considers itself responsible for the events of family life, blames not the spouse for family problems, but first of all itself, and strives to change itself.

A person with an internal locus of control considers himself capable of controlling his informal relationships with other people, arousing respect and sympathy for himself, and actively forming his social circle. Internal considers himself largely responsible for his health. He blames himself for the illness and believes that recovery largely depends on his actions, and not on the doctors.

Thus, the internal is characterized by an active life position, independence and responsibility for oneself.


People with an external locus of control, externals, on the contrary, are more often passive, pessimistic, they feel that nothing depends on them, everything depends on circumstances, and they are pawns in this life.

A person does not take seriously his role in certain events in his own life, in the way his relationships with other people are built, and most often blames his partner for conflicts.

Externals attribute even their successes, achievements and joys to external circumstances, luck, good fortune, the will of God or the help of other people.

The result of this position is passivity, a lack of desire to achieve one’s goals.

Special studies have shown that internals, oddly enough, are “luckier” than externals. They suffer less from psychological problems, they are more successful in life, they are optimistic and productive. Unlike internals, externals, on the contrary, face a large number of psychological difficulties, failures are their “strong point”, they constantly fall into a pessimistic mood and more often than others commit suicide.

And, in fact, a test for locus of control

And yet, which is better? Which is better? If we consider the work aspect, it is better if the internal locus of control prevails among subordinates. And they admit their mistakes and know why they get paid. In this sense, it is more difficult with externalities - for him, circumstances are to blame for everything. Internals are more responsible, more thoughtful, and, accordingly, the result of their work is more predictable. And if in life, then it’s probably less expensive to be external. Less worry, less guilt. Although, it is better, of course, to be in the middle. So that you could be responsible for mistakes, you could be lucky, and the feeling of guilt would not be particularly burdensome.

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Personality types by locus of control

In his works, Dr. Julian Rotter described in detail what locus of control is and what it is. In his opinion, only two options are possible. In the process of growing up, one of them becomes the main one, after which it no longer changes, but only strengthens. Accordingly, on this basis two types of personality can be distinguished:

  • Internal. Such people are confident that they are in complete control of their lives. Thanks to this, they are more disciplined, responsible and self-confident.
  • External. People with an external personality type believe that all events in their lives occur by coincidence and due to external factors. They are usually infantile and quite conflict-ridden, because in case of any failure they immediately come up with why those around them are to blame.

Locus of control is one of the most important factors in personal success. It determines what life position a person chooses, how disciplined he is in business and personal life, and how his relationships with colleagues and friends develop. As noted above, internal personalities are more successful in all areas of life, since they are more responsible in business and more pleasant in communication.

Let's look at each type in more detail.

Locus of control and its types

We have already mentioned that the locus of control can be external and internal, now we will consider these types in more detail. Beyond that, you're probably wondering if there's something in between. For example, this type is when an individual understands that he influences almost everything, but he is not omnipotent, and sometimes cannot influence external conditions. Yes, there is such a type. We'll talk about that too.

External (external) locus of control

This is faith in external conditions. Individuals with this type believe that everything has long been predetermined, that they do not decide or influence the present, much less the future. What we started was a success - the stars aligned successfully. Constantly haunted by failures - born under a leper star. Etc. They shift responsibility to outsiders, the universe, higher powers, etc. Roughly speaking, they will always find someone to blame. Such individuals are called externals.

Internal locus of control

Such people are sure that only they manage and control their lives. Their energy is directed inward. The subject always looks for the reason within himself, analyzes his actions, abilities, and possibilities. He only praises or criticizes himself, not other people, karma, the universe or anything else. Such individuals are called internals.

By this type, psychologists most often mean something in between. The internal locus of control assumes that a person is aware of certain “errors” in the external world; he is ready to accept what he cannot change. However, he takes an active position in this too. This is not about patience, humility, suppression. It's about changing attitudes. As they say, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. That's what we're talking about. There is no absolutely pure type; there is always a combination.

Internal type (internal locus of control)

People with this personality type take responsibility for their lives and for all decisions, both good and bad. Thanks to this, internal integrity and emotional stability are maintained. Internal personalities are characterized by high self-esteem and self-confidence ; they do not lament or worry about mistakes. Instead, they focus on how to act to solve current problems.

Internal personalities usually readily defend their views and beliefs both in work matters and in their personal lives. This is confirmed by an experiment in which American students participated. The purpose of the experiment was different, but already at the stage of forming focus groups an interesting pattern was revealed: almost all students actively participating in the struggle for human rights turned out to be internal personalities.

The essence of the study was to test how locus of control affects a person’s ability to get rid of bad habits. Students were introduced to visual materials about the dangers of smoking (all participants in the experiment were smokers). The internals, realizing the harmfulness of the habit, immediately tried to quit (albeit not always successfully). But the externals did nothing at all. Instead, they planned to one day solve the problem with pills or chewing gum.

External type (external locus of control)

Representatives of this group tend to attribute all successes and failures to external circumstances. They passively wait for gifts from life all the time, because they do not have the idea that they need to put in some effort to achieve success. At the same time, they are prone to depression and causeless aggression, so it is difficult to call them pleasant people.

In addition, external personalities are usually gambling , because they always rely on sudden luck. They are prone to unjustified risks, often behave impulsively, without thinking about the consequences (after all, in their view, everything depends on fate, and not on their decisions).

Another feature of people with an external locus of control is a tendency towards conformity, which has been confirmed experimentally. Participants in this experiment were required to agree or disagree with certain statements (and correct answers were rewarded financially). The organizers found that internals preferred to use their own opinions, while externals often agreed with other participants, even when the answer sounded illogical.

How is locus of control formed?

Children are initially characterized by externality. The way a child’s worldview is structured is that for him everything depends on his parents and adults in general. But as he grows up, he develops an understanding that he is capable of making decisions independently and influencing the world around him. Typically, the tendency towards internality or externality is laid down in childhood and consolidated in adolescence, but some events can change the personality type in adulthood.

Psychologists name the following factors that form the locus of control:

  1. Personality characteristics. Many personal characteristics, both innate and acquired, are important here. For example, a responsible and purposeful person with a strong character is more prone to internality. Intelligence and the ability to think critically play a significant role.
  2. Upbringing. The main turning point is the child’s early childhood. Children initially have an external locus of control, reasonably believing that their entire lives depend on adults. And when they are just learning to make decisions on their own, it is very important that their parents support them, helping them switch to an internal locus. If parents are prone to overprotection, then an external locus of control is most often established in children.
  3. Religiosity and superstition. The belief that our entire life depends on external forces or fate also does not contribute to the development of internality. If the day is not going well, it is easier for a person with an external locus of control to blame the black cat that crossed the road than to admit his own mistakes.
  4. Turning points in life. Every person has memories of some fateful moments. And how he perceives these moments often determines his locus of control. For example, one student may believe that he got into university thanks to many years of preparation, while another believes that he got in through a series of random strokes of luck.
  5. Environment. If an adult finds himself in a team where all colleagues are dissatisfied with life and blame the company management for everything, this can form an external type of perception in him even in adulthood.

Education plays a critical role in shaping the locus of control. The model of perception chosen in childhood is reinforced as life experience is gained. Internal personalities constantly see the consequences of their actions, while external personalities are increasingly convinced that their lives are subject to circumstances. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for an adult to change the locus of control. And yet some fateful events can do this. And with some effort in the right direction, you can change your perception on your own.

Study methodology

The technique for studying locus of control is simple:

  • The test determines the properties of each person according to 2 criteria: external and internal factors as decisive in decision-making and achievements.
  • After the test, analyze the results obtained according to 7 areas of life: general indicators, attitude towards achievements, failures, and family, and they also characterize derivative and interpersonal relationships, and attitude towards health.

According to the test results obtained, the amount of points below is analyzed and interpreted.

Locus of Control Scale

To better understand how well the subjective locus of control factor is developed, the results obtained can be analyzed in 7 different areas:

Internality scaleProperties
General internality
  • According to a high level of subjective control, one's own efforts are considered the cause of achievements.
  • With a low level of control, a person does not attach importance to his own responsibility.
Achievement Area
  • High levels of control contribute to the development of confidence and self-belief.
  • low indicators emphasize the role of external factors in achieving the plan.
  • High levels of control tend to blame themselves for failures.
  • With a low level of control, circumstances are always to blame.
  • high rates indicate full responsibility for family life.
  • When control indicators are low, the partner is always to blame.
Relations of production
  • A high locus of control places greater emphasis on one's own efforts in all aspects of work.
  • For a low locus of control, it is common to shift responsibility to the choice of management or simply luck.
Area of ​​Interpersonal Relations
  • with high scores, one’s own efforts are the decisive factor in establishing a social circle.
  • Low locus of control is characterized by the random formation of a social circle.
Attitude to health
  • With a high locus of control, a person blames himself for the deterioration of his health.
  • with a low level of responsibility it is common to consider the disease to be the result of chance.

Most people have a mixed locus of control, so this scale will help you better understand which areas of problem solving are dominated by external factors and which by internal ones.

"Cognitive orientation"

“Cognitive orientation” is another test to determine the level of responsibility. Here you need to choose one of the two options offered:

Answer options:
1.a) Difficulties in children are the result of upbringing.
b) Troubles in children arise due to gentle upbringing.
2.a) Difficulties are the result of external circumstances.
b) Every person is responsible for solving problems.
3.a) Immoral behavior exists because others ignore this behavior.
b) You can try to eradicate immorality, but it will sometimes appear.
4.a) A person receives rewards for his achievements, but not always immediately.
b) Merits are rarely appreciated.
5.a) Student performance is not affected by teacher bias.
b) Estimates are the result of circumstances.
6.a) The success of a company depends on its circumstances.
b) It depends on the person himself whether he will be a successful leader.
7.a) It is impossible to please everyone.
b) If you can’t find a common language, it means you have no communication skills.
8.a) Character cannot be changed.
b) Character can be changed.
9.a) Everything depends on fate.
b) Fate does not exist, action must be taken.
10.a) A competent employee is not afraid of inspections.
b) Checks can undermine even an experienced employee.
11.a) Success depends only on the work done.
b) Success is a happy accident.
12.a) Every person is responsible for the future of the country.
b) Citizens cannot influence the government.
13.a) Confidence and focus are the key to success.
b) It is useless to make plans; in the modern world everything is changing quickly.
14.a) The world is full of bad people.
b) Every person has something good.
15.a) The realization of desires depends on the efforts made.
b) Desires are fulfilled by chance.
16.a) You have to be lucky to get a leadership position.
b) Those who know how to manage become leaders.
17.a) Humanity cannot influence geopolitics.
b) Social mass movements are an important factor in changing the situation.
18.a) It all depends on the circumstances.
b) Luck does not exist, this is a superficial view of life.
19.a) You must admit your own mistakes.
b) It’s better not to talk about your mistakes.
20.a) It is difficult to understand whether a person has aroused sympathy or not.
b) We ourselves form our social circle.
21.a) After the black stripe comes the white stripe.
b) The person himself is responsible for the results of his work.
22.a) Making society a little better is something everyone can do.
b) It is impossible to eradicate the soullessness of society.
23.a) Prizes are not always given fairly.
b) A bonus is a result for a job well done.
24.a) A good leader gives freedom of action to employees.
b) A true leader clearly explains responsibilities to everyone.
25.a) It is impossible to influence life.
b) There are no coincidences.
26.a) Loneliness of people is the inability to be friendly.
b) Sympathy happens by itself - you can like someone or not.
27.a) Character depends on willpower.
b) Character depends on the environment.
28.a) Everyone creates their own life.
b) It is impossible to control what is happening.
29.a) It is difficult to understand the manager's decisions.
b) Misbehavior of subordinates leads to poor management of work.

Next, you need to calculate the number of points received, each match is worth 1 point:

External type2)a; 3)b; 4)b; 5 B; 6)a; 7)a; 9)a; 10)b; 11)b; 12)b, 13)b, 15)b, 16)a, 17)a, 18)a, 20)a, 21)a, 22)b; 23)a; 25)a; 26)b; 28)b; 29)a.
Internal type2)b; 3)a; 4a; 5)a; 6)b; 7)b; 9)b; 10)a; 11)a; 12)a; 13)a; 15)a; 16)b; 17)b; 18)b; 20)b; 21)b; 22)a; 23)b; 25)b; 26)a; 28)a; 29)b.

In total you can get 23 points. This test is not interpreted according to the scale of spheres of influence, but only indicates the dominant factor of internality.


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.

Internal and external eaters: what's the difference?

What a culture shock it was for me to discover that this phenomenon exists everywhere! External eaters tend to finish eating and drinking to the end, to the last drop, to the last crumb. What happens? Everything is very simple: there is no contact with saturation signals, saturation is not recognized as such. Then it becomes necessary to use some external signals to stop eating. Which signal is the simplest and most convenient? Lack of food. Brian Wansink, one of the renowned mindful eating experts, created and conducted the widely cited “Bottomless Bowl of Soup” experiment. The group of subjects who ate from cleverly designed bowls, which were invisibly filled with soup under the table as it decreased to one constant level, consumed much more than the control group, who ate from regular soup bowls, in which the level of soup visibly decreased as it was eaten. .

The understanding that food itself triggers the eating process often leads to the widespread belief among compulsive overeaters that “the refrigerator should be empty.” The chronic absence of “dangerous” food at home leads to unconscious attempts at “ignorant eating” - stealing a few slices from a partner’s plate, eating in the car on the way home, because it “doesn’t count”, and, in the end, develops into chronic deprivation and serious food problems. breakdowns.

Is it possible to regulate this while remaining within the principles of Intuitive Nutrition and without falling into dietary control? Certainly. After serving yourself a portion of food, look at it with a critical eye, assessing your own hunger level on the Hunger Scale. Do you really want to eat it all? Are you really hungry for this portion? Or are you afraid that you won’t get enough to eat, and overfill? Please note that these questions have nothing to do with the question “Can I eat this much?” The answer to this question is always the same: you can. If you think that you may have gone too far (in 70% of cases this is true), put part of the portion back, telling yourself that you always have the right to more. After eating what's left, pause and again rate your hunger level on the scale. Do you want more? Apply. If you're at a restaurant especially known for its generous portions: Set aside a portion of the serving in a pre-prepared container. Those who are especially shy can tell the surprised waiter that the food in this restaurant is absolutely wonderful and you really want your beloved grandmother, aunt, or dog to try it too.

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