Locus of Control; The 2 Sides You Need to Know

Do you know what locus of control is? Have you ever heard someone say, I didn’t get my dream job, I guess I was just unlucky again? Possibly heard someone else say ‘the reason I get bad grades is that my teacher is always unfair to me’. If not all, then most of us, at some point in our lives, try to blame others for our failures.

But do you think this is just a part of our personality and it’s how we perceive the results of significant events in our lives? Some people believe they had complete control over their lives, while it is just the opposite for others. Why?

Take a look at the definition of locus of control and how it impacts our lives.

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locus of control

What is the Locus of Control?

As many of you have already guessed, locus of control is a psychological term that defines the people’s belief and their reaction to the outcomes of their actions. It represents people’s belief systems whether they think they have control over their life or not.

The belief that we have control is an important aspect of one’s personality as it defines how people perceive the main cause of their life experiences and events.

The two Types

There are two distinct types of control: external and internal. However, keep in mind that they are a continuum, and no one or situation has a hundred percent internal or external locus of control.

1.     Internal Locus of Control:

A person with an internal locus believes that everything that happens in their life is a result of their decisions. These kinds of people feel more motivated and are open to learning.

  • They readily take responsibility for their actions.
  • Perform better in tasks when allowed to work at their own pace.
  • Others’ opinions do not influence them.
  • Usually, they depict a strong sense of self-efficacy.
  • They work hard to achieve their dreams.
  • Perform better at their workplace.
  • And lastly, they feel confident when faced with challenges.

2.     External Locus of Control:

On the other hand, people with an external locus think they cannot control their life and thus feel anxiety. They feel that anything that happens in their life is a result of some external forces.

  • Find excuses to blame others for their failures.
  • They have no confidence in themselves that they can change their situation.
  • In case of success, they think they are just lucky.
  • In challenging situations, feel helpless and powerless.

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Role of Locus of Control in Your Life

Several pieces of research have shone that one’s locus/belief of control had a substantial impact on our life decisions and choices. It appears that generally, men have a higher internal locus than women. Moreover, with age, the locus tends to become more internal for everyone.

Keep in mind that there is no implication that internal is always “good,” and external is “bad.” But in general, people who maintain a belief that they are more in control live a better life.

Final Words

Your belief about your ability to affect control in each situation defines the quality of your situation and is strongly associated with the growth vs. fixed mindset.


What are the two types of locus of control?

The two types of locus of control are as stated above, Internal and External.

What is an example of an internal locus of control?

An example is when a person believes they have an amount of control over the outcome of a situation. Let’s say when taking a math test, they believe they can study and it will affect the outcome of the exam. They will tend to try harder than if they feel like they have no control over the outcome, for instance applying for a job, knowing that the cousin of the interviewer is also applying. It seems that there is little to no hope for getting the job no matter the qualifications.

Why locus of control is important?

It is important because it defines one’s personal sense of responsibility for the outcome of situations. If one has an opinion that the locus of control for a situation is external, they will be less motivated to even try hard to accomplish the task. If one believes they have no control over a situation it is closely related to learned helplessness.

How does locus of control affect personality?

It is linked to personality; in that the belief of the individual having a sense of control over situations is important. Different personality traits offer different perspectives on events that happen in life. But the locus of control can affect personality because someone who seems very confident and outgoing when placed in a situation with a high level of external locus of control, will sometimes seem to have an altered personality.

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