Are You the Master of Your Fate?
Julian Rotter suggested that people feel their fate is decided either by internal or external forces. They control it themselves by their decisions and actions or they feel that there are outside forces such as luck influencing their destiny. Rotter believed that a person s personality was affected by whether they felt their fate was controlled internally or externally. He also felt that a person s total learning experiences formed their decision as to whether there was an internal locus of control or external locus of control.
Rotter hypothesized that people will remain consistent to their locus of control whether it is internal or external. Within his research, Rotter hoped not only to show that a test could be created to measure a person s locus of control but also the stability of that locus of control in different situations. Rotter produced a test known as the I-E Scale, that has been found to be reliable in determining the locus of control of an individual. To show the stability of the locus of control, Rotter examined the relation of an individuals reaction to an event in their lives with their scores on the I-E Scale. In each event the person remained consistent to their locus of control. Thus Rotter was able to support his theories regarding the internal locus of control and external locus of control.
Rotter also found three possible contributing factors to the development one s locus of control. He suggested that cultural differences, socioeconomic differences, and variations in parenting styles could influence a person s locus of control to be either internal or external.
Rotter s research has been found to be quite useful in many recent studies. One such study found a connection between locus of control and depression. It is believed that a person with an external locus of control has a higher rate of depression and a lower ability to cope with chronic pain. Rotter himself cautioned in his later studies that some situations might force us to take an external locus of control. At some point there may be an external force controlling the situation and the only realistic thing to do is approach the situation with an external locus.
I am sure that we can all find situations in our lives in which we have reacted with either an internal locus of control or an external locus of control. I have a friend who is quite consistent in her belief that there are always external factors controlling her decisions and actions mainly the stars. She believes her horoscope can tell her everything she needs to know when it comes to the decisions that she makes regarding her life. She recently found herself making the decisions as to whether she should study for a probability and statistics exam we were about to have or go out with some other friends. Her horoscope for that day stated she would do well in anything she pursued. Preferring, as most of us would, to hit the clubs instead of studying, she barely passed the exam. She told me later that she knew that she would pass because of her horoscope and that she didn t need to study. I asked her if she thought she might have gotten a better grade if she would have studied for the exam instead of going out. She said that she didn t think she could have done any better because the course is so difficult.
The aspect of internal and external locus of control seems to affect a person s personality as well as their general behavior in most situations. Rotter s concept and I-E scale has been quite helpful in determining how different people are going to react in certain situations. Rotter s studies have given me a new outlook on my own control aspects and where I place control of my behavior and decisions. Before reading this study I did not know that there were different types of control or how they affected everyone s personality. I knew that we all had different opinions as to how and why things happened, but not an actual knowledge as to why there are different opinions. Rotter s findings not only confirm my feelings that we all have a different type of control for behaviors but also put names to the different aspects of control. He supported each of his ideas effectively and gave me a better grasp on the aspects of personality and behavior control.