Chapter 2 class discussion: What Does It Mean to Have “Perceived Self-Control”?
Locus of Control
Internals believe the rewards and punishments they receive in life are produced by their own actions and thus they have a sense of personal control. Internals take credit for their success, but also accept responsibility for failure. They have great incentive to engage in operant behavior if the subjective value of reinforcement is high. They perceive themselves as more active, powerful, independent, and effective than do externals. Even when faced with obstacles, internals are likely to take an active, controlling approach to life. They have a “can do” mentality. In contrast, externals believe the reward and punishments they receive in life occur quite independently of whatever they do and thus they have a sense of helplessness. Because they believe their successes and failures in life are due to luck, chance, fate, social forces, or powerful others, externals neither take credit for their success nor accept blame for failure. They feel that operant behavior is somewhat futile even if the subjective value of reinforcement is high. They perceive themselves as relatively powerless, dependent, and ineffective. Even when life is good to them, externals approach tasks in a passive, helpless, fatalistic manner.
What relationship would you anticipate between locus of control orientation and gender, age, race, religious affiliation, conformity to peer pressure, academic achievement, and participation in lotteries? How would this dimension influence the extent to which people are superstitious and the extent to which they believe in horoscopes, quack remedies, and magical rituals? Who is most likely to demonstrate ego strength by choosing a delayed but valuable reward over an immediate momentary pleasure? Do you feel more or less external in some areas of life (e.g., politics) than others (e.g., academic)? What childhood experiences or characteristics of your family may have contributed to your own locus of control expectancies?